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Last updated on Wednesday, September 12, 2012
(BLOOMINGTON) - James David Finney claims he was insane when he ambushed and killed Adam Sarnecki last year, but he does not intend to cooperate with mental health experts the court has assigned to determine his state of mind and metal competency.
That decision means his attorney will not be able to call his own mental health expert as a witness during Finney's murder trial, which on Tuesday was postponed from Oct. 1 to Feb. 18.
During a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Monroe Circuit Judge Marc Kellams told public defender Michael Spencer that if he continues to advise Finney to not cooperate, he can have only lay witnesses - such as friends and family members - testify regarding Finney's mental health status.
Citing case law, Kellams said that since an insanity defense has been filed, Finney must be transported to the appointments with a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist, although he cannot be forced to cooperate. "You can't wave his appointment with experts. I order him to go," he told Spencer. "And sanctions can be imposed to keep out evidence from his own experts."
He also advised Spencer that case law says advising his client to not cooperate is "an obstructive tactic that should be avoided" and cancels his chance to be present for Finney's appointments.
In February, Spencer filed a motion indicating his intent to use an insanity defense, and asked the court to have the defendant "examined to determine not only his state of mind at the time of the commission of the alleged offense but also his current ability to understand the proceedings and to assist counsel in the preparation of his defense."
Four months later, Spencer filed a motion asking the judge to cancel the scheduled psychological exams because "the defendant is not prepared at this time to participate in such evaluations."
Spencer would not comment after the hearing on why he filed an insanity defense but does not want his client to cooperate with mental health experts.
Last week, Finney took up a pencil and wrote Kellams a letter asking for a change of venue, citing extensive pre-trial publicity he said will taint potential jurors. "My case has been very public in the newspaper and TV," he wrote. "I will be unable to find unbiased jurors in this county. Whether I am guilty or not, I will be found guilty because of pretrial publicity."
Spencer said he may file a motion seeking a change of venue to another county, but has not decided.
The next hearing in the case is set for Oct. 18.
Finney, 23, is charged with murder and with being a felon in possession of a handgun in connection with the Nov. 4 shooting death of Sarnecki, gunned down in the parking lot at the south-side Pizza X, where he worked delivering pizzas.
Finney also is charged with illegal possession of a handgun, battery with a deadly weapon and criminal recklessness for allegedly shooting a woman in the thigh as she walked her dog on Halloween night, five days before Sarnecki was killed. He also is charged with burglary for a break-in at a tobacco shop in the days before the murder.
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