Judge: Ill. man still mentally unfit for trial in mid-sermon shooting of pastor at church

| February 15, 2012

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man accused of fatally shooting a pastor mid-sermon three years ago remains prone to hallucinations, barking, growling and other "nonsensical noises," making him mentally unfit to stand trial any time soon, a southwestern Illinois judge has ruled.

The finding raises the specter that Terry Sedlacek may never face a jury on charges that he gunned down the Rev. Fred Winters at Maryville's First Baptist Church as a stunned congregation looked on in horror. Sedlacek had no known connection to the church or Winters, and an investigator said Winters hadn't received any previous threats before Sedlacek calmly walked into the church and opened fire.

Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli, in a ruling Friday, said there's no substantial probability that Sedlacek would regain his mental wherewithal within the next year to stand trial. Sedlacek has confined to mental health treatment since being found incompetent to stand trial seven months after the March 2009 shooting.

Sedlacek's public defender, John Rekowski, is pressing for a discharge hearing since it's unlikely his client will face trial. Such a hearing could result in Sedlacek being set free, ordered to stay in mental-health confinement or even prison time.



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Category: Church Security

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