- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

WEST POINT, Miss. (AP) - A man accused of killing his father but diagnosed with schizophrenia has been jailed for 11 years without trial, The Clarion-Ledger reported Sunday.

Steven Jessie Harris’ case fell through the cracks long ago, Clay County District Attorney Scott Colon, who took office this year, told the newspaper (https://on.thec-l.com/243avk9 ).

He said he’s trying to have Harris moved to a mental hospital.

“To keep a mentally ill person in jail for 11 years is a disgrace,” said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, founder of the nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Virginia. “It is exactly what we did in the 1830s and 1840s before we built state mental hospitals to be more humane.”

State mental health officials have requested, but have yet to receive, money to expand Mississippi’s forensic mental hospital from 35 beds to 60.

Harris was arrested in October 2005 and diagnosed in July 2007. A judge ruled in October 2010 that he’s not competent for trial.

Pearson Liddell, Harris’ most recent public defender, said in an email that he retired two years ago.

Harris is charged with one count of murder, three of aggravated assault on law enforcement officers, two each of armed robbery, kidnapping, and aggravated assault, and one of shooting into an automobile.

According to West Point police, he allegedly shot his 72-year-old father, Malachi Randle, in West Point, shot at cars on a nearby highway with a .22-calliber rifle, wounding a driver, and then tried to commandeer several cars at a drive-in restaurant, stabbing one man before carjacking a Honda and taking its female passenger hostage. And tried to take

He wrecked that car during a police chase. After the crash, he ran across the highway, firing at officers and wounding three of them, and tried to take a female driver hostage, according to police.

In 2012, Liddell, the fourth different public defender to represent Harris, called then-District Attorney Forrest Allgood to ask about his prolonged jail stay without trial.

Allgood talked to Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott and decided Harris must be mentally competent because he was taking his medication and “interacting well with the other inmates and staff, something he formerly would not do.”

A jail nurse’s report that October said Harris had been refusing medication, verbally abusing staff and threatening to hurt them, but injections ended the behavior problems.

Allgood asked for re-evaluation of Harris’ competency, but it never happened.

The only paperwork since has come from Harris.

On June 23, 2014, he wrote to the “U.S. General,” saying, “I been in jail . after I stormed the city of West Point with my guns. I need your help because it was war crimes, and I can’t get a fair trial. . Please let me go with some funding.”

The sheriff said Harris is behaving now, but his medication must occasionally be adjusted.

“He attacked a few guards when his medication stopping working,” he said.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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