Charles Jennings, accused of shooting and nearly killing his father-in-law during a crowded church service, has been ruled competent to stand trial.
OGDEN, Utah — A man accused of shooting and nearly killing his father-in-law during a crowded Father's Day church service in northern Utah has been ruled competent to stand trial.
A pair of mental health professionals determined that Charles "Ricky" Jennings Jr., 35, is mentally stable enough to be on trial, a judge said at a hearing Monday, the Standard-Examiner of Ogden reported.
Prosecutors said Jennings shot James Evans, 66, because he felt "disrespected." The shooting occurred at Catholic church in Ogden during a quiet part of the service as about 300 people stood in preparation for communion.
Jennings had walked into the church seconds earlier holding hands with his wife, Cheryl Jennings, who is Evans' daughter.
The bullet remarkably missed Evans' brain, entering near his ear and exiting out his cheek. Evans, 66, is expected to survive but faces a long recovery from the damage done to his jaw.
Jennings, who is charged with attempted murder, is being held in jail without bond. His next court hearing is Oct. 3.
Jennings understands the seriousness of the charges he's facing, his attorney, Michael Bouwhuis, said Monday.
Detectives have said they thought Jennings might have been drinking or on drugs at the time of the shooting. Bouwhuis said Monday there are still questions about whether Jennings understood the difference between right and wrong that day.
"He's got a pretty firm grasp on what he's facing and what happened," Bouwhuis told the Salt Lake Tribune after the hearing. "The question that remains is can you separate his comprehension from the drug abuse and his mental capacity."
He and his wife had a history of domestic disputes that might have triggered the shooting, police have said.
Jennings' wife stayed inside the church after he fled. There was no indication she knew what her husband was going to do, and authorities haven't filed any charges against her.
Jennings was apprehended walking near a highway hours after the shooting. Authorities say he had stolen a truck but it ran out of gas.
Court records show Jennings has a criminal record going back to 1996. Over the years, he has pleaded no contest to felony charges of receiving a stolen vehicle and criminal trespassing. He also has pleaded guilty to theft charges and a felony charge of attempting to tamper with a witness or juror.
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