Suspect in deputy's death had mental evaluation
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
HOUSTON -- The man accused of shooting and killing a suburban Houston officer has a history of mental illness and once lived in a homeless shelter, authorities said Monday.
Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth was ambushed and shot 15 times, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a court hearing for Shannon J. Miles, who is charged with capital murder.
Miles, a 30-year-old Houston resident who said little in court, is being held without bond. His criminal history dates back to 2005 and includes an arrest in Austin in 2012 that led to Miles being sent to a state mental hospital for several months.
Anderson would not comment on a motive, saying investigators still were trying to figure that out. When asked whether it might be connected to heightened tensions around the country between law enforcement and civilians, Anderson said, "I have no idea whether it does or not." This weekend, Sheriff Ron Hickman said the attack was "clearly unprovoked," that authorities believe the 47-year-old deputy was targeted because he was in uniform, and there is no evidence Goforth knew Miles.
Anthony Osso, one of Miles' two court-appointed attorneys, said his client intends to plead not guilty.
"He had indicated to the investigating officers that he was not involved in the case," Osso said.
In 2012, the Travis County District Attorney's Office charged Miles with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he got into a fight at a homeless shelter over a remote control, prosecutor Joe Frederick said. Miles was found to be mentally incompetent in October 2012 and he was sent to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, Texas.
"From this case, you could never tell what would happen" in the future, Frederick said, adding prosecutors treated the case as a "very serious offense" and had offered Miles a plea agreement of seven years in prison. Miles was declared mentally competent in February 2013, but the charge was dropped after the victim could not be located, Frederick said.
Jon Evans, Miles' attorney in the Austin case, said medical privacy laws prevent him from offering any details about Miles' mental-illness history.
But he was told by Miles' mother her son had a lifelong history of mental illness.
At the time of the case in 2012, Miles "suffered from severe mental illness," Evans said.
Miles also has three convictions for resisting or evading arrest, as well as convictions for disorderly conduct with a firearm, criminal mischief and giving false information to police. Records show he was sentenced to several short stints in jail, anywhere from six to 10 days.