An Arkansas prison inmate accused of murdering a female correctional officer with his bare hands in the kitchen of the Miller County jail in December 2016 is competent to stand trial, Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett said.
Tramell Mackenzie Hunter, 29, is charged with capital murder in the Dec. 18, 2016, death of 47-year-old Lisa Mauldin. After beating Mauldin to death, Hunter allegedly attacked Correctional Officer Damaris Allen, beating her with his fists and her portable radio. Allen recovered and Hunter is charged with battery of a peace officer for that alleged assault.
In 2017, Barrett announced that she intends to seek the death penalty for Hunter in Mauldin’s death. The only other punishment available for capital murder is life without the possibility of parole.
In the months following the death, Hunter was evaluated by staff at the Arkansas State Hospital who found mental illness made him unfit to proceed to trial. Barrett said she received a call from officials at the state hospital last week notifying her that Hunter has been found competent to proceed to trial and responsible in his mental state at the time of the alleged criminal conduct.
Barrett said Hunter is expected to be transferred from the hospital to Arkansas Department of Correction custody this week. At the time of his alleged crimes, Hunter was an inmate of ADC being housed in the Miller County jail as part of the Act 309 program. The 309 program allows inmates to work in county jails while serving prison time. The idea is to provide free labor for municipalities while giving offenders a less restrictive environment, often closer to home.
Hunter is serving a 15-year sentence he received in 2011 in Pulaski County, Ark., for shooting his mother and uncle and stealing his mother’s car.
Sex offenders, murderers and inmates with a history of escape are ineligible for the 309 program.
Now that Hunter has been found competent and responsible, his case can proceed to trial. Court records show Hunter does not currently have a date to appear for a pretrial hearing or a trial date. His attorney is Ron Davis of Little Rock. The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson.