Justin Carl's murder trial has been suspended – and will have to restart – after he was ruled incompetent Tuesday following three days of testimony in the case.
Carl, 36, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in Waukesha County Circuit Court in the killing of Waukesha resident Kevin Hueman, an apparent stranger to Carl, who was fatally shot last August. His trial began on Sept. 12.
Online court records indicate that Judge Ralph Ramirez ordered a competency examination for Carl on Sept. 16 after the issue was raised by Maura McMahon, one of Carl's attorneys. The psychologist who performed the examination, Deborah Collins, was scheduled to testify at a hearing Tuesday morning, Sept. 20, shortly before Ramirez determined Carl was not mentally fit to proceed.
A defendant is considered to be incompetent for trial if he or she cannot aid in their defense or understand the proceedings. All activity in the case will be suspended until Carl's competency can be re-established.
A review hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 20.
Ramirez also declared a mistrial – a trial rendered invalid through an error in the proceedings – during Tuesday's hearing. That means both parties have to restart the trial process and, if the case is retried, would necessitate the selection of a new jury.
The competency issue arose after several outbursts from Carl during the trial.
According to court records, Carl repeatedly addressed the court directly and on separate occasions shouted an objection to testimony and asked a witness a question despite receiving numerous warnings about his behavior.
Carl also expressed some frustration with his counsel.
He said in letters to the court that he disagreed with a decision by his attorneys to adjourn an earlier trial date to review previously unseen evidence – Carl had requested a speedy trial in May – and claimed he had not examined all the evidence against him before the September trial began.
As of Tuesday morning, the trial had been scheduled to resume Wednesday, Sept. 21. That is no longer the case.
Carl was committed to the state Department of Health Services for treatment, court records show.
Basis for charges
According to a criminal complaint, Carl fatally shot Hueman around 8:17 p.m. Aug. 14, 2015, shortly after Hueman walked outside his North Street home to smoke and watch a thunderstorm that night.
Carl's apartment was a block away from where the shooting occurred, according to the complaint, and he reportedly told his aunt he was responsible for the killing one day after it happened, but later denied it.
Carl was arrested soon after but had to be rushed to the hospital because he sliced open his throat and wrist when officers surrounded the St. Paul Avenue apartment where he was staying.
If convicted of the homicide charge, Carl faces a mandatory life sentence. He's facing two additional felony charges in the case for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm.