OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma teenager accused of killing his parents in the Edmond home will undergo an evaluation to determine if he suffers from a mental illness.
Michael Elijah Walker, 19, is facing two counts of first-degree murder.
In court Friday morning, the suspect appeared before Judge Natalie Mai in a review hearing after an application for competency determination was filed.
“Once the judge determines there is a reason to question the defendant’s competency, by statute, she’s required to send him for a mental evaluation,” explained Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. “Nothing else will occur until this has been resolved.”
The evaluation will include seven factors, including whether the defendant understands the charges against him and whether he can “rationally assist” in the preparation of the defense.
“The last factor that they will look at is if released, whether the defendant will pose a threat or danger to the community or to themselves,” said defense attorney Elliott Crawford. “In a competency proceeding, the burden is on the defendant — not the state of Oklahoma. The defendant will be presumed competent and they have to overcome that by preponderance of the evidence.”
Crawford is not representing Walker in this case, but he said the report would address all of the factors and have an opinion on competency.
According to the court filing, Walker will be evaluated by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Prater said the evaluation could occur in jail but normally, defendants are transported to Vinita in cases like this.
The state and defense are expected to return to court for another hearing in June.
“Ultimately, we could enter an agreement with the defense if both our experts and their experts determine that he’s not competent or we could have a hearing at that point in front of the judge where the experts and other witnesses would be questioned,” Prater. “It’s very important. I mean not just to the defense, obviously. I mean, my sworn duty as a prosecutor is to assure that justice is done and that includes to assure that defendant is competent – that the defendant is sane, and we assure that all of their other constitutional rights are maintained.”
The next hearing is set for June 21.