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Man accused of beheading son is ruled incompetent to stand trial

February 21, 2013|By Marisa Gerber

A Louisiana man accused of beheading his disabled 7-year-old son about 18 months ago still isn’t competent to assist in his own defense against first-degree murder charges and will remain at a mental facility, a judge ruled this week.

When police in the southern Louisiana city of Thibodaux arrived at Jeremiah Lee Wright’s home in August 2011, they found the severed head of his son, Jori, in the driveway. They found the defendant, now 31, in his driveway and his son's dismembered body parts in garbage bags outside.

“Wright made statements that he was part of a social experiment run by the government,” court documents show. “And he began making statements that the head was not real, but that of a CPR dummy.”

At a press conference after Jori died, Lafourche Parish Schools Supt. Jo Ann Matthews said the boy's death rocked the local schools.

“Jori came to us when he was in pre-K,” Matthews said. “And many lives have been touched by him."

Thibodaux Police Chief Scott Silverii said the boy, who used a wheelchair and feeding tube, was “just a wonderful, wonderful child from everything that we’ve learned.”

By October 2011, a sanity commission had found that Wright had a “major mental illness.” The proceedings were halted and the defendant was sent to a mental health facility in eastern Louisiana, court documents show.

When the mental facility reported recently that the defendant had been restored to competency, District Judge John E. LeBlanc scheduled a hearing.

In his ruling Tuesday, LeBlanc disagreed with the facility's assessment and suspended court proceedings again. The judge remanded Wright to the mental facility and asked that officials provide monthly updates on his progress.

Kerry Cuccia, one of Wright’s attorneys, praised the judge’s decision, saying he doesn't think his client is ready to proceed with court hearings.

 “Mental capacity is something that fluctuates,” Cuccia said. “But my experience with  Mr. Wright is that he has not really changed in any significant way since August of 2011.”

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marisa.gerber@latimes.com

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