An Erath County jury will not be asked to decide Michael Howard's competency this morning, after a second evaluation Tuesday by the defense's medical expert found that the alleged city park assailant is competent to stand trial.
A jury was scheduled to be selected today in the 266th Judicial District Court to determine Howard's competency. Howard is accused of stabbing Morgan Mill resident Brandi Todd in the back in March while she watched her two children play in Stephenville City Park. Medical experts for the state and defense were both expected to testify in regards to Howard's competency. But a last minute evaluation by the defense's expert, Dr. Stephen Mark of Waco, found that Howard is, in fact, competent.
Heath Allen, Howard's court-appointed attorney, said Tuesday that his client had just returned from Waco after being evaluated by Mark.
"Due to a structured environment and medication, his competency has been restored," Allen said.
Judge Donald Jones is expected to hear evidence from the doctors' reports this morning and make a final determination about Howard's competency. If the judge decides he is competent, a jury trial will likely take place in October, Allen said.
Meanwhile, Todd said she and her mother will be in the courtroom today to face her attacker and listen to testimony. Todd is paralyzed from the waist down and is in therapy daily.
Todd said she has gained a lot of upper body strength, but still has no movement in her lower extremities. The attack nearly severed her spinal cord.
Whatever happens today and in the coming months, Todd said she is sure of one thing - that she hopes Howard never gets out of jail.
"He is obviously dangerous and I hope he is never allowed back out on the streets," she said. "What he did not only affected me, but it affected my children for the rest of their lives."