Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TOP STORY >> Murder suspect declared unfit

Leader staff writer

The man charged with the first-degree murder of a Jacksonville firefighter and attempting to murder two other first responders was found mentally unfit to stand trial at his hearing on Monday. But he could be tried later if he’s eventually declared sane.

Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley said the family is “frustrated, understandably so. We’ll hang with them every step of the way until this is completely resolved. We’ll hang with it and get it across the finish line…until he can be held responsible for the terrible misery he’s put upon so many people.”

In March, Bryce Allen, 47, of Jacksonville allegedly drove his van around emergency vehicles and struck Captain Donald Jones, firefighter/engineer Jason Bowmaster and police officer Daniel DiMatteo as they were working the scene of his mother’s accident. Thelma Allen hit a gas main on Hwy. 161 with her SUV. She wasn’t injured.

Jones, a 31-year-veteran of the department, died from his injuries. He was the first Jacksonville firefighter to be killed in the line of duty.

Jegley said Allen would be revaluated after treatment and his mental state must be reported to the court on June 17, 2013. But the hospital could turn in another assessment before that date, Jegley said.

He said he hopes Allen will be rehabilitated and be able to stand trial at a later date.

As of Tuesday, Allen was being held at the Pulaski County Jail. He is awaiting transfer to the State Hospital.

His diagnosis is bipolar disorder with psychotic features, according to the hospital’s report. It says he doesn’t understand the proceedings and is unable to help his attorney with a defense.

Capt. Kenny Boyd of the Jacksonville Police Department wrote in an e-mail to The Leader, “He (DiMatteo) is still recovering, making progress every day. We are not prepared to comment at this time (about the outcome of the hearing).”

Allen’s most recent evaluation includes a first-hand account of the tragic incident.

It states that the accused killer walked past the victims after he hit them and didn’t try to help them.

Allen allegedly told an officer that he was driving with the cruise control on and it got stuck. Allen claimed the accelerator went to the floor and he couldn’t stop.

There was no evidence that he attempted to brake or that the car malfunctioned.

Allen was arrested in 2009 for another incident involving law enforcement personnel. According to court records, he was acquitted of the second-degree battery of a police officer and terroristic threatening by reason of mental disease or defect.

At that time, Allen was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hallucinations and delusions. Previous evaluations noted that he did not take medications as prescribed.

Some of the delusions included paranoia involving the Ku Klux Klan.

Allen told a doctor during his most recent evaluation that, “they are trying to hang me…prosecutors hate me, ‘cause I’m black and all prosecutors are white.”

Allen also claimed people were trying to “slip” him cocaine at the Pulaski County Jail. At a hearing earlier in the month, he talked over officials as they worked, accusing “everybody” of “hating” him.

Allen said then that the prison guards were abusing him. He also accused them of changing his medications in an attempt on his life.

No decision was reached at that hearing because the mental evaluation wasn’t ready yet.

According to his most recent mental exam, during Allen allegedly threatened a correctional employee for announcing the visitation list over the Pulaski County Jail’s intercom. The correctional employee reported that the prisoner spit in his face.

Allen has been described in previous evaluations as irritable, agitated, paranoid, threatening, guarded, suspicious, hyper religious and hyper talkative.

As Allen was escorted out of the courtroom at the earlier hearing, Allen said, “Guess I gotta get back in there and get killed. I’ll get back to preachin’ one of these days.”

The previous exams also said Allen has grandiose thoughts, an increased rate of speech, increased goal directed activity and a decreased need for sleep.

The most recent evaluation said he mentioned having “top secret” military clearance during a conversation with one of the State Hospital’s doctors.

Allen, who was an Army corporal from 1983-1986, told the psychologist who examined him in 2010 that he had been hospitalized eight times, mostly at Fort Roots Veterans Hospital in North Little Rock.

Allen has also been accused of hitting an Ohio police officer with a different car in October.

According to the Ohio police report, Allen got into an argument with a valet at a hospital. The valet called an off-duty policeman who was working there as a security guard.

According to the report, the guard tried to stop Allen while Allen was driving the car and Allen intentionally struck the guard with the car. The guard sustained a minor injury.