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Man accused of shooting father-in-law in Ogden church deemed competent

Published September 9, 2013 11:01 am

Court • At issue is his ability to separate right from wrong during Ogden church attack.
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Ogden • The man accused of shooting his father-in-law in the head during a June church service was found competent to stand trial Monday despite concerns that he was acting under the influence of drugs or mental health issues at the time of the shooting.

Charles Richard Jennings Jr., 35, said little Monday as he appeared in 2nd District Court on charges of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated robbery and possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person.

If he's convicted, Jennings could face up to life in prison.

That fact is not lost on him, said defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis.

"He's got a pretty firm grasp on what he's facing and what happened," Bouwhuis said after the hearing. "The question that remains is can you separate his comprehension from the drug abuse and his mental capacity."

Bouwhuis said that although his client is able to comprehend what is happening in his case, and is competent enough to stand trial, there remain questions about his competency and ability to discern right from wrong at the time of the shooting.

The court granted Bouwhuis a request for further psychological evaluations of his client Monday. The findings may be discussed when Jennings appears in court in October.

According to charging documents, Jennings walked into St. James the Just Catholic Church, 495 N. Harrison Blvd., just before noon on June 16 and pulled out a gun.

He fired only one shot, hitting his father-in-law in the head.

But the bullet did not kill James Evans, 66. It entered his right ear and exited through his cheek, police said, causing neither death nor brain damage.

Jennings ran from the church into a nearby neighborhood, where he allegedly stole a truck from a resident at gunpoint, documents state.

He was found several hours later walking along Interstate 84 in Box Elder County after the truck had run out of gas. Officers claim he was trying to flee to Idaho.

On Monday, Judge Michael Lyon asked Jennings if he had been prescribed any medications to help with his psychosis. Bouwhuis said he has not.

Jennings, who appeared in court Monday wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and shackles, is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 3.

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: @Marissa_Jae