The first degree murder trial of Morgan County resident Lillard Daniel is on hold, according to 9th District Attorney General’s Office. The murder trial has not yet been rescheduled as Daniel has recently had surgery; however, the over-riding issue revolves around Lillard Daniel’s competency to stand trial.
Lillard Daniel was originally charged with second degree murder for the August 15th, 2012 shot gun slaying of prominent businessman and farmer, Calvin Howard of Lancing. At the preliminary hearing on this case before Judge Mike Davis on November 15, 2012, the testimony was that an investigation conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Lillard Daniel shot Calvin Howard in Daniel’s garage when Howard was allegedly summonsed to Daniel’s house by certified mail from Daniel to Howard. Upon Howard’s arrival, according to Daniel’s statement, the two started discussing Daniel’s dissatisfaction with the effects of Howard’s spraying of herbicide on Daniel’s weed-infested fields. At some point in the argument, Daniels shot Howard with a single shot from a shotgun. A Morgan County Grand Jury later increased the charge to first degree murder by indictment on January 22, 2013.
At a recent pre-trial hearing before Judge E. Eugene Eblen in Morgan County Criminal Court the defense attorney for Daniel, Stephen Johnson, raised issues concerning both his client’s potential insanity, as well as Daniel’s lack of competency to assist in his own defense. Deputy District Attorney General Frank Harvey, who is heading up the trial for the State of Tennessee, then moved the Court to have Daniel also evaluated by the State’s experts.
Unfortunately, according to Generals Johnson and Harvey, the State of Tennessee’s own mental health expert has determined that the defendant is, indeed, “not competent to assist in his own defense”. This pronouncement, therefore, makes Lillard Daniel unable to legally stand trial at this time.
As an assurance to the public at large, the same experts have opined that they do not believe Lillard Daniel is currently a danger to himself or others. Therefore, and unfortunately according to the District Attorney General, there is no avenue for the State of Tennessee to have him committed or otherwise confined to a mental health facility. Furthermore he cannot be incarcerated in jail or prison.
The trial will be reset at a later date. The family of the victim has already been notified of this unfortunate news by the District Attorney.