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Fallon LDS Church Shooting Suspect Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial

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Defense attorney Richard Davies speaks with KOLO 8's Ed Pierce. Image: Don Dike-Anukam.
Defense attorney Richard Davies speaks with KOLO 8’s Ed Pierce. Image: Don Dike-Anukam.

By Don Dike-Anukam

FALLON, Nev. — Fallon church shooter John O’Connor was deemed by a court yesterday as not meeting mental health competencies to stand trial for allegedly shooting two people, one of whom died.

University of Nevada Psychiatrist Dr. Steven Zuchowski conducted a psychiatric evaluation of O’Conner to determine if he was competent to stand trial.

“We’re looking for the ability to understand the charges against the person, their ability to understand court proceedings…and finally the ability to assist counsel with a reasonable degree of rational understanding,” Zuchoski testified. “He knows his charges…however, it’s a very superficial understanding.

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John O’Connor, 48, is in custody for a Fallon church shooting in which one died and another was injured. Image: Churchill County Sheriff’s Office.

“He believes he’s not going to come to trial and that it will all go away,” he added. “He could not comprehend that the proceedings were serious and about the potential for him to receive a severe sentence.”

These criteria mean that O’Connor does not meet the competency criteria to stand trial — however, his attorney Richard Davies said that O’Connor will become competent with treatment in about 90 days.

Zuchowski said that O’Connor believed he was under the control of the victim, Charles Miller, who died from the July 22, 2018 shooting at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Another person, who was also shot, survived the incident.

The judge ruled that O’Connor was incompetent to stand trial at this time due to an answer on the third prong on a three-prong question.

Another competency hearing will be held later to determine whether O’Connor can ultimately stand trial.

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Don Dike Anukam
Don Dike Anukam
Don Dike-Anukam is a Reno native attending college in northern Nevada. He has been involved in activist politics for 15 years on and off, and has been involved in multiple campaigns in multiple positions in that time. He also was a college radio political, news, and talk-show host covering a range of stories from hostage standoffs, fires, interviews, and public speeches.

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