LOCKPORT – The attorney for Christopher T. Fuller Jr., a Lockport man charged with violently shaking his 5-month-old son, was granted a psychiatric examination Wednesday to see if Fuller is mentally competent to stand trial.
The request blocked a preliminary hearing scheduled in Lockport Town Court to determine if the case should be turned over to a Niagara County grand jury.
Town Justice Leonard G. Tilney Jr. warned Fuller, “In all likelihood, the grand jury will indict you before there’s a preliminary hearing.”
Fuller, 23, of Dysinger Road, is being held in the Niagara County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail on charges of first-degree assault and reckless assault on a child.
Deputy District Attorney Holly E. Sloma said the baby remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Women & Children’s Hospital, where he has been since the Jan. 22 incident.
Sloma and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello were prepared to offer testimony from police officers and a doctor, while showing a video of Fuller’s questioning by Sheriff’s Office investigators.
But Assistant Public Defender Michael H. White told the judge that he thought Fuller has “mental deficiencies that haven’t been diagnosed.”
Sloma wanted to go on with the hearing. “I have witnessed numerous interviews with the defendant prior to today where he was completely cogent,” she told Tilney. “If the people were allowed to proceed to the hearing today, his competency would speak for itself.”
After Tilney granted the request to have two psychiatrists examine Fuller in jail, Sloma asked for Fuller to be held without bail “in view of questions about his mental state.” Sloma said that was “customary.” Tilney replied, “It may be customary, but I’m not going to do it.”