Suspected Brown Bag Video shooter appears in court

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Michael Fencil, the suspected shooter in a murder that occurred last summer at the Brown Bag Video II Store in McClure, Ill., appeared in court Tuesday in Alexander County for a case management hearing.

The hearing was held on the issue of a psychological evaluation, which the court has been awaiting to determine whether Fencil, 25, of Mounds, Ill., is mentally competent to stand trial.

Because the psychologist performing the evaluation is still gathering documents form law enforcement agencies, the examination has not yet been completed, said Fencil's attorney, Shane Aden.

Fencil faces charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, armed robbery and first-degree murder.

The robbery took place in early morning hours July 31.

Charles A. Caldwell, a Brown Bag Video Store customer, was shot and killed in the robbery, and a clerk suffered a gunshot wound to the arm.

Fencil allegedly fled the scene but was apprehended in Ottawa, Ill., the following day, according to Illinois State Police.

The hearing to decide whether Fencil is mentally fit stand trial was set for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 1.

Until then, the case will not be set on the jury docket, and Fencil has waived his right to a speedy trial up to this point.

A Feb. 2 deadline has been set for State's Attorney Jeffery Farris to declare whether the state will seek the death penalty if Fencil is convicted.

Farris declined to comment on whether he will seek the death penalty.

Aden said Fencil chose to waive his rights to a speedy trial because it is in his best interest to let the court rule on his mental fitness.

If he is declared mentally unfit to stand trial, the attorneys will have to decide what avenue they will take next in the case.

There must be some sort of safety net for the public, but that may be in the form of some type of long term mental health commitment, Aden said.

Once the issue of Fencil's mental fitness is settled, the clock restarts, and the case will progress at a normal pace again, Farris said.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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