XENIA — A physician said there was a “very slim to none” chance of restoring a murder defendant’s competency without medication during a Sept. 24 hearing.
Michael D. McLendon, 25, of Dayton is charged in the alleged March 7 murder of Fairborn Hampton Inn clerk Andrew Day.
McLendon pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault, firearms specifications and repeat violent offender specifications in May. The charges make him eligible for the death penalty. A jury trial was canceled after a competency evaluation found him incompetent to stand trial but restorable.
Dr. David Soehner, a forensic psychiatrist, testified at the Sept. 24 hearing that McLendon has refused medication, denying having any mental illness, during the 18 days he’s been his patient at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare. Soehner petitioned to the court for authority to forcibly medicate McLendon.
Soehner said McLendon has been diagnosed with moderate-to-severe schizophrenia — with symptoms including disorganized thinking, underlying paranoia and auditory hallucinations.
“This illness is not something that can be resolved with just talk therapy. Without medications, there’s nothing I can do to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia,” Soehner said to the court. “It is a lifelong illness, and similar to diabetes, requires medication on a daily basis or in a long-acting form. As soon as medications are stopped it can be expected that symptoms will return. It is not a cure for schizophrenia but it does effectively reduce the symptoms … he’d be much better able to assist his defense attorney and understand what he needs to work through to defend himself against his current charges.”
Soehner said more than 60 percent of his patients in similar circumstances have been restored to competency through medication. Forced medication is administered by a nurse and an assist team.
“You’re asking for authority to physically restrain this man?” defense attorney Gregory Meyers asked.
“Why not take a shot at the ‘slim’?” Meyers continued.
Meyers argued that the possible side effects — a sedative effect, involuntary movement and tics, gait disturbance — of proposed anti-psychotic medications could impact McLendon’s appearance in court, particularly to jurors.
“If he’s sitting in a court of law, with a jury in the box, deciding whether to kill him — give him the death penalty or not — that’s an entirely different story, isn’t it?” Meyers asked.
Soehner said that side effects would be closely monitored and medications would be adjusted if necessary.
Visiting Judge James Brogan said he would take the matter under advisement and try to make a decision quickly.