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Sprouse is found competent for trial

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The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - A Ferris man was found competent to stand trial on two capital murder counts for the October 2002 murder of a Ferris police officer and an innocent bystander, by a 12-member jury.

Jurors returned the unamious verdict in the 40th District Court of Judge Gene Knize on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

Kent William Sprouse's trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 19, 2004 for the shooting deaths of Ferris Police Officer Harry Marvin Steinfeldt III and Pedro Moreno.

A competency hearing was required to determine if Sprouse was elgible to stand trial after questions arose concerning his mental state.

Dr. Jay Crowder, a forensic psychiatrist of Dallas, said while he had not made a determination

of Sprouse's mental state he felt the suspect might suffer from schizophrenia, due to years of drug use.

Don Maxfield, chief felony prosecutor for the Ellis County District Attorney's office said mental illness does not automatically mean a person is incompetent.

To find a suspect competent the suspect must be able to consult with his attorney to prepare for his defense and must understand the charges against him.

Capital murder charges can be sought when a police officer is killed.

Charged with two capital murder charges, Sprouse could face the death penalty or life in prison.

He remains in custody of the Ellis County Sheriff's Detention Center in lieu of $5 million bond.

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