In 14 months awaiting trial for killing his teacher, a 17-year-old named Byron has come to fear that someone is changing his body parts. He says the voices that told him to kill are saying that violence will heal him.This sad case reinforces why it'd be folly for the Legislature to slash funding for mental health services. As the assistant district attorney handling the case for Smith County told the News, "If there had been proper treatment for a juvenile with these kinds of diseases, if there had been a long-term placement available for a poor kid like him, Todd Henry would still be alive."
After a recent evaluation, court-appointed forensic psychologist Emily Fallis concluded that the schizophrenic teenager remains delusional and dangerous. The Fort Worth behavioral expert's report to a juvenile court, obtained by The Dallas Morning News, predicted a "low probability" that Byron could maintain the minimal level of competence required for trial.
So Byron's case remains unresolved more than a year after special education teacher Todd Henry collapsed in his Tyler classroom with a butcher knife in his chest. Byron's last name is not being used because The News does not identify juvenile offenders.
Earlier this year, The News obtained 7,000 pages of Byron's records from schools, mental health clinics and hospitals, and juvenile agencies. They detailed failure after failure in communication and care as Byron's turmoil worsened.
His case illustrates the difficulty in finding treatment and incarceration for severely mentally ill juvenile offenders in Texas, say the Smith County prosecutor and defense attorney involved in the case.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Mentally ill Tyler teen who murdered teacher lingering in legal limbo for incompetence
The mentally ill Tyler teen who killed his teacher at John Tyler High School remains in legal limbo, the Dallas News reports, because he's too sick to be declared competent to stand trial. The story by Lee Hancock ("Teen suspect in legal limbo more than a year after teacher's slaying," Dec. 26) opens: