Suspect Michael Lester is accused of shooting an Auburndale police officer.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
BARTOW, Fla. - Judge Roger A. Alcott has found that a man accused in the attempted murder of an Auburndale Police Officer is competent, and able to stand trial.
During a competency hearing Friday, the defense had argued that Michael Lester was drunk and doesn't remember what happened, therefore can't participate in his trial.
In a ruling issued Tuesday, Alcott said the man has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer, and therefore he is legally competent to proceed.
Officer Stacey Booth remembers it well. She was responding to a 911 hang-up call last September when she got shot twice, just moments after ringing the doorbell at Lester's home.
Investigators say Lester fired an assault rifle through the front door. Booth continues to recover from her injuries.
"His blood-alcohol content was very high. It converted to a .31," said Dr. Robert Moering, a psychologist called to the stand by the defense during Friday's hearing.
Moering was the lone witness to say Lester isn't fit to stand trial.
"He's not able to. He has no recollection of the day. He can't discuss what happened because he doesn't know what happened," he said.
To counter the claim, the state called two other doctors to the stand.
"He is able to rationally discuss what is going on with the case, what he's accused of doing," said Dr. Tracy Harting, psychologist.
Another expert, Dr. William Kremper, said, "Just because a defendant does not recall specifics events related to the crime does not render him incompetent to proceed."
Lester's public defender, Terri Stewart, fought long and hard for a favorable ruling. From her perspective, it's difficult to defend a client who can't remember what happened.
"It's an important constitutionally that Mr. Lester be able to participate in his defense," she said. "Being able to say I don't know or I don't recall does not assist him in participating in his defense."
Much of the hearing centered around medical jargon, involving competency tests and scales, but some new facts did surface.
During cross examination, Dr. Moering revealed the few things Lester does remember, like walking around with a bottle of vodka that night and seeing bullet holes through the door.
In his ruling, Alcott also stated that any memory deficit at the time of the shooting was due to voluntary intoxication, and has no bearing on a trial.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
A mother and daughter were rescued from a house fire in the Citrus Park area of Tampa on Saturday afternoon.