How Mental Illness Impacts a Courtroom in Lubbock County

LUBBOCK,TX - A Lubbock man, 31 year old Justin Chisum, pleaded guilty to capital murder for the crimes he committed against his four year old girl, Kylee Forrest. He was charged to life in prison without parole at the Lubbock County District Courthouse May 3.

Since his sentencing, Chisum's defense team released a statement claiming he was "legally insane at the time of Kylee's murder."

Related Link: Chisum Defense Team Releases Statement on Life in Prison Sentencing

This case is one of about 100 cases that are impacted by mental illness in the Lubbock County Courthouse. 

Assistant District Attorney Ashley Davis consults on every case that has questions of mental competency to stand trial. She said the local number of cases impacted by this issue is significant. 

"We want to make sure everybody's rights are upheld," Davis said. "We have seen cases come through where a person is mentally ill but they are competent to stand trial and they did understand the consequences of their actions. So we're confident in going forward in those cases."

When the question of mental illness approaches a courtroom, Davis said it could fall into two different categories: competency to stand trial or an insanity defense. 

It compares the individual's state of mind at the time of the incident to the individual's mental health and their ability to stand trial. 

Different team collaborations and mental health authorities will determine individual's mental health status, as the court case is stalled. 

Davis said each case that involves mental illness is highly complex. She added no two cases have ever appeared the same. 

"There's never been one right answer," Davis said. "I've never seen any two cases that are the same when it comes to mental health."

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