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Malone found incompetent to stand trial

Lawton_Convicted killer of Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) Trooper Nik Green is off death row.  Ricky Ray Malone was found guilty of killing Green in 2005, but on Tuesday - five years after the 2003 murder - he has been found incompetent to stand trial for his resentencing.  The Court of Appeals overturned Malone's death sentence in September of last year, and in June, Malone's defense attorneys requested a retrial on the grounds that he is incompetent to assist in his own defense.  In June, a Comanche County District Court judge ordered that he be psychologically evaluated by the state, and Tuesday's results have ruled him incompetent to stand trial.

According to the Malone's examiner, he was unable to determine whether Malone is truly psychotic, or if it's a ruse.  The examiner said he was driven to rely on the report given by the defense's psychologist whose evaluation determined Malone is incompetent.  Malone is now off death row, and on his way to a mental health facility in Vinita to be treated.

Trooper Nik Green was shot - execution style - with his own gun after a routine traffic stop just after Christmas in 2003.  Malone was high on methamphetamine at the time of the crime, and was found guilty.  However, the new ruling has changed how long Malone will remain in the system.  "They're alleging he is incompetent at this time to assist his council," said Comanche County District Attorney Robert Schulte.  "The test there is does he understand the nature of the proceeding, and can he assist council in his own defense?  They're alleging that he cannot."

Schulte says the state psychological examiner says it's unclear.  "He's either malingering, very intelligent, and he's malingering - which means faking the test - faking the symptoms, or he in fact is psychotic and incompetent," said Schulte.  Malone was ruled as incompetent and now will be sent to Vinita for 60-90 days for treatment, training, and therapy.  During his time there, he will be evaluated constantly for competency by the state psychologist.

However, the defense is not required to accept the psychologist's findings.  "They still have the right to have their own forensic experts evaluate him, and they may have a differing opinion," said Schulte.  "That's what puts us to a jury trial, and a jury deciding."  If, in fact, a jury were to rule Malone incompetent, he will be required to remain in the facility until it can be ruled that he is competent.  Only then will he face trial again to be sentenced on a first-degree murder conviction.

Schulte says the news was hard to give to Trooper Green's family.  "Only son, only brother...of course, she lost a husband, three children lost a father," said Schulte.  "That's one of the most difficult parts of the job, to go back to the family, and say, ‘We've had an adverse ruling at the appellate level, and now we have to go again.'  Each day along the process, for instance, now, the competency issue, it causes concern...and that's hard for them."

Malone's defense attorney's had no comment for 7News at this time.  Malone will be treated at the metal facility in Vinita for 60-90 days until it is determined that he can stand trial.  Even if the state psychological examiner finds him competent, Malone has a right to a jury trial on the issue of competency.  Until the matter is resolved, all criminal proceedings against Malone are on hold.  Schulte says Malone could remain in the court system for the next 8-10 years.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.

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