HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Many of our viewers were shocked on social media when we posted the story about the judge’s order for a mental health assessment. According to experts we spoke with, the judge is following proper procedures, and Vence could very well face all charges brought against him.
FOX 26 Legal Analyst Chris Tritico tells us, “It’s not uncommon for a defense lawyer to have his clients evaluated, but this section of the criminal court procedure we don’t use very often at all."
It’s rare, but the judge is doing the right thing. Tritico says this occurs when a judge learns about a defendant having a mental disability from someone within the jail. The judge then has 12 hours to have the defendant, in this case Derion Vence, mentally evaluated to see if treatment is needed.
Tritico further explains, saying, “It doesn’t necessarily mean that he is now entitled to an insanity defense. This is not setting up an insanity defense per say. It just means that he may have a mental disability that the system is going to have to deal with at this point. We’ll see where it goes from there.”
We also spoke with Psychiatrist Dr. George Santos, and he tells us the evaluation doesn’t take long to complete, and often determines if the defendant is competent to stand trial. It’s totally separate from the defense pleading insanity.
“Insanity defense is very difficult to win. They are not often pursued, and there are even less often one, and typically when someone is determined to be not guilty by reason of insanity they’re locked up for as long or longer sometimes then they might have had they gone a different route.” said Santos.
Right now, Vence is being held for tampering with evidence, a human corpse. So far, he is the only person charged in this investigation.