Ky. police chief shooter to stand trial
By Jeffrey McMurray
STANTON, Ky. — A man charged with killing a small-town eastern Kentucky police chief was found competent to stand trial Wednesday, but a judge still must sort out whether the man intentionally failed IQ tests to avoid possibly facing a death penalty.
Jamie Barnett is accused of killing Clay City police chief Randy Lacy, who was fatally shot in June 2007 in the back of his squad car during an arrest. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, but Barnett's court-appointed attorneys claim he is mentally disabled and not eligible for capital punishment.
The U.S. Supreme Court banned executions of the mentally disabled in 2002.
Powell Circuit Judge Frank Fletcher scheduled another hearing Monday to allow defense attorneys to bring family members in to persuade the judge that Barnett is mentally disabled. According to Barnett's school records, he failed two grades in elementary school and dropped out in fifth grade.
At the competency hearing Wednesday, Dr. Amy Trivette with the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center testified that Barnett showed behavior inconsistent with being mentally disabled during her six weeks of observation and failed a test to detect whether inmates were faking a low IQ.
Even though Barnett's IQ test showed he was below the mentally disabled threshold of 70, Trivette said his IQ was probably closer to 84. She based that in part on his advice to other prisoners to stay off drugs.
"Whenever there's somebody in the community who takes on a fatherly role with some of the other patients, that's never the mentally retarded guy," Trivette said.
She also said when doctors told Barnett had contracted Hepatitis, he became active in his treatment. Defense attorneys objected to bringing up that medical information and urged the hearing be closed, but the judge overruled them.
Barnett's brother, Jerry Barnett, said afterward that prosecutors appeared to be trying to alter the IQ test results to keep the maximum punishment in place. "If it had come back at 90, they wouldn't have had any problem accepting that," he said.
Lacy was one of several law enforcement agents in his family, including brothers who serve as jailer and court bailiff in Powell County.
Lacy's practice of respecting familiar prisoners by handcuffing them in the front rather than the back has been identified by some family members as possibly contributing to his death. He was shot with his own gun.
Jury selection in Barnett's trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
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