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Competency hearing in the High Court for accused murderer Shedrack White – is he fit to stand trial?

Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2024. 4:10 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A Belize City man accused of a 2020 murder was before the High Court on Tuesday where a competency hearing was held to determine if he is fit to stand trial for a charge of murder.

53-year-old Shedrack Richard White is accused of the murder of William Rubio on July 29, 2020, and has been on remand for the past 3 years and 5 months awaiting trial. But will he be deemed fit to stand trial?

The court heard on that question from Dr Alejandro Matus, psychiatrist for the Ministry of Health.

Dr Matus testified that he did a total of four evaluations on White between July 2022 and January of this year.

Dr Matus’ first evaluation yielded a diagnosis of bipolar disorder; his second, a diagnosis of psychosis, and his most recent a progression to schizophrenia, one of the most serious of all mental illnesses and a lifelong affliction with no cure.

According to Doctor Matus, schizophrenia is a mental disorder where the patient loses touch with reality and familiar function and that means they can only be given treatment for their symptoms, but they will never be fully cured. When a patient has more than six months with psychotic symptoms, he continued, most of the time it advances to schizophrenia.

He concluded that based on his evaluations, White is not fit to stand trial at present and will need permanent continued treatment to even be functional in society. He would be a risk to society if left untreated, he added.

Virgilio Murillo, the CEO of Kolbe Foundation and the Director of the Belize Central Prison at Hattieville, testified that White has been a frequent guest at Hattieville dating back to 2006. Since his most recent return to prison in 2020, White has committed at least 12 infractions stemming from various assault charges to his fellow inmates and prison guards. Murillo said that White displayed anti-social behavior hence why he assaulted, threatened and got into quarrels with others, despite his own personal counseling and said he was classified as high risk in the prison system. But White’s mental issues were news to him.

According to CEO Murillo, prisoners at Kolbe who suffer from mental illness are placed in the Special Care Building where there is a Psychiatrist Nurse and the Prison Medical Officer who attend to them and ensure that they adhere to their treatment.

White was represented by attorney Norman Rodriguez who appeared virtually. He addressed the court briefly before adjournment to insist that he is innocent.

 

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