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Suspect declared insane at time of assault

By Robin Y. Richardson
Sept. 2, 2014 at 10 p.m.

<p>Christopher Lynn Hamilton</p>

After being determined competent in July to stand trial, Christopher Lynn Hamilton, the suspect accused of attacking two local Wal-Mart associates and a customer with a hatchet, has now been declared legally insane.

The diagnosis, filed in the District Clerk's office on Aug. 19, was made by psychologist, Dr. Thomas G. Allen, who was appointed on Aug. 6, by 71st Judicial District Judge Brad Morin to perform a psychiatric evaluation on Hamilton, at the request of Hamilton's court-appointed attorney Kyle Dansby.

Dansby filed a notice of intent on Aug. 4, to raise the issue of insanity and then filed a motion on Aug. 6 for examination regarding insanity.

"It appears to this examiner, with a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that at the time of the conduct charged the defendant, Christopher Hamilton, was legally insane," Allen said, "At the time, the defendant was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions due to the presence of severe mental disease or defect.

"Namely, the defendant was suffering from schizophrenia, undifferentiated type," he said, "The defendant did not know his conduct was wrong as defined by the laws of the state of Texas."

Allen indicated that Hamilton's behavior is consistent with onset of schizophrenia during the developmental years.

"The history provided and the symptom presentation is consistent with what is known about schizophrenia, its onset and symptom pattern," said Allen. "The defendant's presentation was not melodramatic and malingering does not appear to be an issue."

Hamilton, a 28-year-old Arkansas transient, was arrested last December and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly coming into the Wal-Mart in Marshall and attacking two of the store's associates and a customer with a hatchet.

A probable cause for arrest report shows that the suspect, later identified as Hamilton, was accompanied by a dog when he entered the store wearing a large backpack and allegedly started swinging a hatchet at the victims.

His attorney, Dansby, filed a motion in January suggesting incompetency and request for examination. He explained in the motion that he was unable to prepare a defense for his client because he wouldn't speak with him about the facts surrounding the allegations of the offense. Further, Hamilton mentioned a potential mental condition to him, but wouldn't disclose to him the treatments, diagnosis, or all medications that he had previously taken.

Following a competency evaluation in March, the defendant was declared not competent to proceed with trial. Following his admittance in April to a mental health facility for competency restoration, he was returned as competent to stand trial.

The latest evaluation, performed by Dr. Allen on Aug. 15 and filed in the district clerk's office on Aug. 19, has changed that status, however.

"It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that, at the time of the conduct charged, the actor, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, did not know that his conduct was wrong," Allen advised in his report.

The psychologist performed the forensic interview and mental status examination on Hamilton in the Harrison County Jail where the defendant is incarcerated.

Regarding Hamilton's employment history, Allen noted that prior to Hamilton's incarceration, he was a Social Security disability recipient based on psychiatric disorder and his mother was his payee.

His criminal background history includes a prior arrest for unlawful use of a firearm and two residential burglaries, one of which was as a juvenile.

Hamilton's psychiatric and medical history shows that he's been treated at various facilities throughout his life for mental illness.

"He reports he was treated at Harbor View Regional (psychiatric) Hospital around age 12-13 for anger management," Allen reported. "He was also treated at Lakeland Regional Hospital in Springfield, Missouri around age 15 and Arkansas State Hospital as an adult when he overdosed on marijuana laced with formaldehyde.

"Most recently, he was treated at Vernon State Hospital for competency restoration and was diagnosed as schizophrenia, undifferentiated type," Allen continued.

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