Prosecutors clear hurdle in active-shooter case in Warren County

Expert: Mohammed Laghaoui suffers from psychotic delusional disorderJudge: Still competent to stand trial

This newspaper has been covering this case since the active shooter incident in June. We will continue to follow the trial and other developments.

Prosecutors cleared a hurdle Wednesday in efforts to bring to trial the man accused of wounding his father and a sheriff’s deputy during an active-shooter incident in June in Warren County.

Judge Michael Gilb ruled that Mohammed Laghaoui’s lawyer had failed to prove he was incompetent to stand trial although an expert hired to examine Laghaoui said he suffered from a “psychotic delusional disorder” that renders him unable to assist in his defense.

Laghaoui, 19, will remain in the county jail on $2 million bond, charged with attempted murder and felonious assault, attempted felonious assault, domestic violence, tampering with evidence and improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation.

The charges all stem from a June 9 incident during which he is accused of wounding his father and Deputy Katie Barnes during a shooting spree that also prompted a lockdown of the Landen area while authorities hunted for him.

In addition to defense efforts to prove him incompetent for trial or insane at the time of the incident, prosecutors were faced with proceeding without the automatic rifle allegedly used in the incident, despite extended searches by divers and a special team brought in from Illinois.

Also, a key witness was indicted for forgery and receiving stolen property in an unrelated case.

On Wednesday, Gilb ordered next that Laghaoui’s sanity at the time of the incident be evaluated to see if he could still be found not guilty by reason of insanity, despite the ruling on mental competency to stand trial.

During the hearing, Jennifer O’Donnell, a forensic psychologist, said her opinion was that Laghaoui, 19, would be unable to assist in his defense due to mental problems.

O’Donnell said Laghaoui’s mental condition began deteriorating in 2015 and he left public school in Butler County.

At one point, Laghaoui became convinced he had a snake inside of him, but left a hospital where he was taken for scans before any tests could be done, O’Donnell said.

Laghaoui’s parents said he exhibited other bizarre behaviors. At one point, he insisted on moving to Austria, but returned after two days, according to O’Donnell.

“I came away feeling this was an individual who was very tense, somewhat angry and trying to keep it all together,” she said.

But O’Donnell said Laghaoui understood the charges against him and the potential prison term he faced.

Assistant County Prosecutor Travis Vieux challenged O’Donnell, noting some teenagers are commonly known to withdraw and exhibit some of the other behaviors attributed to Laghaoui.

Vieux also noted O’Donnell interviewed Laghaoui just once for about an hour. He pointed out Laghaoui used marijuana, possibly explaining some of his actions, and connected the snake episode to drugs Laghaoui was given at a concert.

“That in itself is not a basis for a severe mental illness,” Vieux said.