NEW BOSTON, Texas: A defendant’s uncooperative conduct and repeated verbal outbursts led to his restraint and removal during a bench trial Wednesday in Bowie County.
Rather than have a jury decide if he is guilty of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit assault, Reggie Mason Smith, 42, opted to have his case decided by a judge only. Before testimony began Wednesday, 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart announced that Smith was refusing to come into the courtroom.
After failed attempts were made to accomodate him by bringing court staff into a holding area at the Bowie County courthouse, Lockhart ordered deputies to place Smith into a restraint chair and wheel him into the court. Smith shouted profanities at Lockhart and was so disruptive he had to be removed.
“I believe that show was an attempt to make himself prosecution proof. At some point this has to stop,” Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said. “I think it should be today.”
Smith’s conduct led his attorney, Bowie County Public Defender Deborah Moore, to ask for a competency hearing to determine if the trial should go forward. After hearing testimony from psychologist Brian Smith, transport deputies and jail staff, Lockhart recessed the court for an hour to consider the issue.
Lockhart determined that Reggie Smith is competent to stand trial.
Reggie Smith was wheeled back into court and asked to enter a plea to the charge of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault. After Reggie Smith entered a not guilty plea, Crisp asked if the plea was actually not guilty by reason of insanity, as Moore had previously done on his behalf.
Reggie Smith contradicted his attorney and said he is not pleading insanity and then asked if he could enter into a plea agreement with the state. After Lockhart told Smith that the state has withdrawn all prior offers, Smith again began shouting and directed profanity at Lockhart.
Reggie Smith was removed from the courtroom for the rest of the day. Witnesses testified that Reggie Smith believed Roger Cox and Brenda Cox, long time friends of his parents, had done something to them. Brenda Cox testified she received a call from Reggie Smith’s mother warning that Reggie Smith was on his way to the couple’s home in the 1500 block of Myrtle Springs Road in Texarkana, Texas.
The Cox’s were not at home and Brenda Cox called police. When they arrived, deputies approached Smith in the Cox’s back yard. Deputy Randall Baggett testified that Smith pulled a pocket knife and threatened to rush them.
“He said we’d have to shoot him,” Baggett testified. “I said, ‘What’s it going to do to your mother if we shoot you,’ and he dropped the knife.”
Smith allegedly kicked the back door of the home in, setting off the alarm.
Since his arrest, Reggie Smith has been evaluated for competency and spent time in a mental health facility. Reggie Smith has been deemed competent since he began receiving psychiatric medications.
Both sides rested Wednesday but the state is expected to call a mental health expert Thursday to rebut the defense’s claim that Reggie Smith shouldn’t be held accountable for his behavior because of insanity.