HOUSTON: A student accused of shooting 10 people at a Texas high school in 2018 will spend up to 12 more months in a state mental health facility as doctors say he remains unable to endure his trial, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 20, has been receiving mental health treatment at North Texas State Hospital in Vernon since early December 2019. He was initially incarcerated for 120 days. But in March 2020, doctors determined he was still incompetent and he was ordered to stay another 12 months, said Nick Poehl, one of Pagourtzis’ lawyers.
The expiration of this was approaching and that is why the hospital sent us a report indicating that he is still not recovered in his skills. So we just picked up for up to another 12 months, Poehl said.
An order to extend Pagourtzis’ hospitalization was due to be signed by Judge John Ellisor on Tuesday.
Poehl said he could not discuss the specific details of Pagourtzis’ treatment due to privacy concerns. But he said the treatment of his clients has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In terms of the normal resources and tools the hospital can use over the past year or so, some of those resources have been reduced. It just doesn’t affect him, but affects all of the patients there, Poehl said. The hope is that when we get back to normal some of this will improve.
The question of Pagourtzis’ competence relates to his current state of mind and not to his state of mind at the time of the shooting, Poehl said.
A spokesperson for the Galveston County District Attorneys Office, who is suing Pagourtzis, did not immediately return a phone call asking for comment.
Pagourtzis is charged with capital murder in the May 18, 2018 attack on Santa Fe High School, located approximately 50 miles southeast of Houston. Because he was 17 at the time of the attack, he is not eligible for the death penalty. His trial was scheduled to begin in February 2020.
Pagourtzis also faces federal charges in a sealed criminal case.
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