HOUSTON (CN) - Against the wishes of a Texas state senator, a judge Monday refused to expedite the transfer of an alleged cop killer to a state mental hospital to undergo treatment to restore his competency.
Shannon Miles, 31, is in Harris County Jail, charged with the capital murder of Harris County sheriff's Officer Darren Goforth.
Goforth was shot 15 times from behind on Aug. 28, 2015 as he filled up his squad car at a Houston gas station.
Harris County Judge Susan Brown on Feb. 9 ordered that Miles, who is schizophrenic, be transferred to North Texas State Hospital for 120 days to restore his competency. Prosecution and defense experts agreed he does not understand the charge he faces.
Because 61 other Harris County inmates are ahead of Miles on a waiting list for transfer to the hospital, Miles's attorney Anthony Osso said at the time that he didn't expect Miles to be moved until May.
But state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, called the Texas Department of State Health Services on Feb. 10 and arranged for Miles to be given a bed immediately, citing potential threats to his safety in Harris County Jail from deputies angry about Goforth's killing.
Osso filed an emergency motion to stop Miles' transfer on Feb. 12, saying he needed time to gather Miles' medical records to be sent with him to the hospital, and that expedited transfer would violate Miles' due process rights.
Judge Brown agreed on Feb. 16 to delay Miles' transfer to give Osso a few weeks to gather medical records, and reset the emergency motion hearing for Monday.
Brown removed her glasses and rolled them in her fingers at the Monday hearing as Osso told her why should be not be moved to the front of the line.
Miles, tall and slim in an oversized yellow jumpsuit, leaned back in a leather chair at the defense table and rested a closed fist on his chin throughout the 20-minute hearing.
Osso said he's satisfied that Miles is safe in solitary confinement in a medical unit of the jail. He said jail administrators gave him a tour of Miles' cell, a dayroom and a recreation room to which Miles has access, and that other inmates and "nonessential jail personnel" can't interact with him.
Brown said she has mixed feelings.
"There's nobody who wants to get this case to trial more than me," she said. "I'm also struggling with the idea that Miles is no more or less important than anyone who's on the list. Some of them have been waiting for more than 120 days."
The judge was unmoved. "I'm going to order the Harris County Sheriff to maintain Miles at No. 61 on the list," she said. She made the order effective immediately.
She also addressed a motion that Osso filed on Feb. 24, to stop Whitmire from interfering with the case.
"In securing a bed for Mr. Miles, [Whitmire] has indicated that he wants to see Mr. Miles brought to trial quickly, at whatever cost," Osso wrote in the motion . "He has sent a strong message that competency must be restored, and quickly. As a powerful political figure, doctors will surely take note and potentially err on the side of finding competency restored."