A suspected serial killer already serving a 100-year federal prison sentence for crimes committed during a spree of burglaries is set to go to trial Tuesday for the killing of a mother and daughter in Prince George's County in 2009 -- one of two sets of mother-daughter killings investigators think he committed.
Jason Thomas Scott faces first-degree murder charges in the March 2009 deaths of Delores Dewitt, 42, and her 20-year-old daughter, Ebony, who were found dead inside a burning car not far from their Largo home.
Although Scott was arrested in July 2009 after he sold stolen firearms to a federal agent, his trial for the Dewitts' killings has been postponed several times -- once while he was awaiting sentencing in the federal case and a second time in October when he was ordered to undergo a mental competency evaluation.
Scott, 29, also is considered a suspect in two other homicide cases but has not been criminally charged, though prosecutors said he has admitted responsibility. Another woman and her daughter, Karen Lofton, 45, and 16-year-old Karissa Lofton, were found fatally shot in their Largo home in January 2009. In June 2008, Vilma Butler was found fatally shot in her Bowie home after her house was set ablaze.
Mental competency was not an issue raised during the federal case, but after speaking with co-conspirators, Scott's attorney for that case indicated that his client had made false confessions for some of the 61 crimes to which he admitted involvement.
An October request for the mental competency hearing in Prince George's County Circuit Court gave little indication of why attorneys sought a mental evaluation of Scott.
"Counsel believe that the defendant is currently unable to effectively assist in his own defense," Scott's attorney, Harry Trainor, wrote in court documents requesting the evaluation for any mental disorder or disability.
The court documents provide no details explaining why Scott has been unable to assist in his defense, and Mr. Trainor previously declined to speak further about the reason for the request. Scott's mental competency hearing was held in January, but his medical and mental health reports filed by doctors from Clifton T. Perkins Hospital were sealed, according to online court records.
In the federal case that went to trial last year, Scott was convicted of 11 felony charges committed during a spree of more than 50 burglaries and nine armed home-invasion robberies. Prosecutors said Scott planned his crimes by stalking his victims at their homes and meticulously researching their backgrounds on the Internet and with a database at a UPS Inc. facility in Largo, where he worked at the time. When he attacked, Scott carried an arsenal of items that stood out to victims, including body armor, a police scanner, a Glock handgun and flex cuffs.
Limited information has been released by police and prosecutors about evidence that investigators think links Scott to the Dewitts' deaths.
A jury was selected in the murder case last week and opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday morning. The trial is expected to last between four weeks and six weeks, according to prosecutors.
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