Murderer David Jungerman incapacitated: judge
A Missouri judge has ruled that an 85-year-old man who gunned down a lawyer outside his home in September 2017 is mentally unfit to attend his own sentencing.
David Jungerman, 85, was convicted in September of the October 2017 murder of attorney Thomas Pickert. Pickert was shot outside his home while his wife, Dr. Emily Riegel, inside was; he had just returned from taking the couple’s two sons to school.
According to prosecutors, Pickert had previously obtained a $5.75 million jury verdict against Jungerman, who appeared to have punched a homeless man who was trying to break into Jungerman’s baby furniture storage facility. The man reportedly had to have his leg amputated as a result of the attack.
The day before the assassination, Jungerman was served with liens.
Investigators found an unused bullet in Jungerman’s white van — discovered by a witness at the Pickert shooting site — that matched the type of bullet that killed Pickert. Police also uncovered a recording of Jungerman speaking to an employee about Pickert’s killing.
According to local NPR affiliate KCUR, Jungerman was reportedly worth millions at the time of the murder.
It took the jury just two hours to convict Jungerman of murder. Sentencing was originally scheduled for Nov. 18, but that’s when Jackson County Judge John Torrence ordered a competency assessment for Jungerman, according to court records, and asked both the state and defense for an update on the results.
Jungerman’s attorney, Jonathan Laurans, said that four mental health professionals under the supervision of the state’s Department of Mental Health confirmed that a “prior opinion of incompetence” given by a defense witness at the trial, ” actually correct”.
In court, the defense expert testified that Jungerman’s mental incompetence was “probably due to brain injury or illness” resulting from a stroke, brain tumor, or “acute neurological injury of some form.”
“In other words, the state psychologists hired to conduct this assessment concluded that the incompetent Jungerman is unable to understand the forthcoming hearing and unable to assist his attorneys, which inevitably means that he cannot exercise his constitutional right of allocation in any meaningful way,” Laurans wrote.
Laurans also argued that this “is not a situation in which, despite the defense expert’s confirmed and confirmed opinion in court, Jungerman was in any way competent,” but “only later in the weeks that followed did he lose his mind and ability.”
Prosecutors, meanwhile, had urged that the verdict hearing continue, arguing that they seek only the minimum sentence and not the maximum sentence under Missouri law.
“Upon sentencing, the defendant faces life in prison without parole for first-degree murder,” prosecutors said in a Feb. 10 filing. “In view of Mr. Jungerman’s age, the State hereby notifies the Court and Counsel of its intention to seek only the required minimum sentence of three years for the offense of armed criminal offense and its request that that sentence be concurrent with the penalty for murder shall be imposed in the first degree.”
Laurans criticized the position of the prosecutors.
“The State believes that Defendant Jungerman’s constitutional right to be present at this core proceeding in this prosecution in his sane mind is irrelevant because he believes the penalties to be imposed are a foregone conclusion,” argued Laurans, adding that in relation to criminal law courts “shall not advance proceedings which endanger life or liberty without the presence of a competent defendant.
In an order issued on Monday, Torrence effectively admitted that a stay of conviction was not his preferred outcome, but pointed to the lack of evidence presented by prosecutors.
“The state has not requested a second mental evaluation and has not presented evidence at today’s hearing,” Torrence wrote. “Regrettably, the court finds and concludes that the defendant is unable to proceed with the sentencing and that he should be held at an appropriate hospital facility for treatment pending a determination of his standing.”
Torrence ordered another evaluation of Jungerman within six months to determine if he is “mentally fit to proceed with the sentencing,” and if not, whether there is a “significant likelihood” that Jungerman “will achieve mental fitness.” to proceed with sentencing for the foreseeable future.”
In his briefing documents, Laurans indicated that he would continue his efforts to have the sentence overturned entirely and seek a new trial “if and when Jungerman regains his competency.”
Judge Torrence scheduled a hearing for October 12.
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https://lawandcrime.com/crime/missouri-judge-regrettably-finds-that-elderly-murderer-is-mentally-incompetent-to-face-sentencing/ Murderer David Jungerman incapacitated: judge