OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – After being declared mentally incompetent to stand trial for almost three decades, a first-degree murder charge has been re-filed against a Norman man.

Cameron Lee Smith is accused of beheading another man in 1996. Authorities believe he cut his housemate’s head off with an axe, put it in a backpack and threw the bag in a dumpster.

Former Cleveland County District Attorney Tim Kuykendall told KFOR that after Smith was deemed mentally incompetent in May 1996, it was expected he’d regain competency within a few years and then stand trial, but Smith’s incompetency lasted much longer. Kuykendall said that for him to be facing re-filed charges 27 years later is highly unusual.

Back on May 24, 1996, a witness said they saw Smith walking naked down an alley with a backpack and then throw it in a dumpster behind 110 W. Boyd Street in Norman. The witness checked out the bag out of curiosity.

“There was blood on it when I swung it up onto the dumpster,” the witness told KFOR in May of 1996. “I could see there was blood on it. So, I knew then there was surely something wrong. So, I unzipped it real carefully, with blood on it, opened it up and I saw the head. It was like meat around the neck and then I opened it up a little more and you could see it was a pretty good-sized ear.”

He then called 911.

Smith had been living at a boarding home at 763 DeBarr Ave. 

The Norman police department were told that Smith got mad at his housemate, Roydon Dale Major, after he asked him for a cigarette and was rejected. It’s said Smith then broke down Major’s room door in the house with an axe and decapitated him.

A search of the boarding home resulted in officers discovering a beheaded body in one of the rooms. Smith was found sitting naked in a downstairs bathtub.

Smith would be charged with first degree murder but found mentally incompetent to stand trial. He was then sent to the Oklahoma Forensic Center, a behavioral health facility.

“With the understanding that if he ever gained competency, that he could be charged later,” explained Kuykendall, the former Cleveland County DA who was overseeing the case.

He said the murder charge was dropped in 2005 because of a new law that said that a person cannot be held under a medical treatment until competent order for more than two years. At that point it had been nine years.

“Because of that new law, I had no choice back in 2005 but to dismiss the case, knowing it could be refiled if they ever found him competent and knowing that he would stay locked up, not a threat to the public, unless he gained competency,” he further explained.

Fast forward to 2023, a first-degree murder charge was filed against Smith on Tuesday, May 9.

“I assume if they have re-filed charges against him, that means they’ve gotten some kind of a notification that he is now competent,” Kuykendall said. “So, the DA’s office has refiled those charges that were dismissed in 2005.”

Kuykendall emphasized that he is not at all involved in the re-filed case and knows no specifics about it.

KFOR reached out to the current Cleveland County District Attorney for more insight, and he said that for safety reasons involving Smith, he cannot provide comment at this time.