Attorneys contest whether Adrien Wallace is mentally fit for trial

Adrien Graham Wallace has been found mentally competent to proceed with this case. Watch for an update next week at

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Adrien Graham Wallace has said he is “God’s warrior” and suffers from hallucinations that he refuses to describe, his defense attorneys argued this week.Adrien Graham Wallace

Wallace, 42, faces charges of aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of his mother, Saundra Sue Wallace, 71, and his nephew, Nicolas Brian Juarez, 16, who was visiting in Lake Oswego from Mountain View, Calif. The incident took place the evening of June 4, 2012, in the driveway of a house on Indian Springs Circle, where Adrien Wallace lived with his mother. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Accompanied by one sheriff’s deputy, Wallace sat next to his attorneys in court but didn’t speak. The judge allowed him to have one hand freed from cuffs so he had the option of communicating with them in writing.

His attorneys, David Falls and Laurie Bender, contend that while Wallace was once competent to stand trial, his mental condition crumbled following questioning about “writings” obtained from his computer hard drive, seized from his house after the shooting. Falls said Wallace blames his defenders for the release of that material, which he apparently “never thought would come to light.”

“He cannot, will not, cooperate and assist in preparing this case because of this delusional belief that has developed as a result of this information coming into the hands of the prosecution,” Falls said, urging the judge to return Wallace to the hospital for treatment.

The defense challenged a state hospital doctor’s conclusion that Wallace is fit to stand trial, and three doctors presented conflicting opinions in Clackamas County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

While all three thought Wallace suffered from a mental illness involving paranoia and depression, they differed in their views of whether that threatens his right to a fair trial.

Wallace recently spent a week at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, where Judge Jeffrey S. Jones sent him to receive an independent evaluation of his competency.

Psychiatrist Karl Mobbs, who works in the state hospital’s forensic evaluation department, testified that he reviewed various records dating back to 1992, hospital records from his time in Salem and other doctors’ evaluations and mental health professionals’ comments. He also conducted a three-hour-long face-to-face interview with Wallace.

Wallace showed no signs of psychotic behavior during his stay at the state hospital, where he read the newspaper and mostly “kept to himself,” Mobbs said.

“There is substantial information that, at the time (of the evaluation), he was able to work with you guys, and he was working with you guys,” Mobbs told Falls and Bender. “He said he did not trust lawyers in general, but this is not an uncommonly held belief in society.”

Psychologist Richard Hulteng, hired by prosecutors, previously reported that he felt Wallace was able to aid and assist the attorneys preparing his case. He reiterated that opinion on Tuesday.

“He was guarded, sarcastic and at times evasive but he generally went along with the program,” Hulteng said.

Hulteng said testimony from other doctors on Tuesday reinforced his opinion.

“The fact he got through two more evaluations and more or less worked with counsel during those evaluations strengthens my impression he is able to aid and assist,” he said.

But Henry Miller, a clinical psychologist hired by the defense, said it appeared Wallace was able to “maintain himself” for a long time by isolating himself socially and throwing himself into his work as a mechanic. However, over the past five years, Wallace was unemployed and unsuccessful when applying for jobs.

“He can maintain himself in certain situations,” Miller said. “If you push him too hard, he’ll fall apart.”

Addressing Bender and Falls, Miller said Wallace appears to have “incorporated both of you into his delusional framework.”

“He believes you’re sabotaging things and you’re just using him as a cash cow and you are hurting people he’s trying to protect by trying to interview them,” Miller said. “He won’t cooperate. If you ask him questions that are intrusive to him, he is going to react angrily and reject your requests.”

Later, Miller added: “He has overtly stated ... ‘David Falls is against me,’ ... I don’t want to repeat all of the things he said about Ms. Bender.”

When pushed to discuss whether he’s had hallucinations or nightmares, and when told he’d likely have to talk about what he was thinking at the time of the alleged crime, regardless of whether he was comfortable with that, Miller said: “He just stared at me and said, ‘If we go there, somebody has to die.’”

Prosecutor Chris Owen of the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office said Wallace “picks and chooses” when to discuss hallucinations.

“When something pops up that makes him feel paranoid, he attacks verbally and he manipulates,” Owen said. “He throws a tantrum like a child; then, there’s got to be a little bit of a new approach developed in the situation and then he continues down this course.”

Attorneys were making closing arguments as the newspaper went to press this week. This story will be updated

Background reading:

'Motive unknown in double homicide' (June 7, 2012)

'Wallace to plead guilty but insane' (May 9, 2013)

'Miranda warnings at issue in murder case' (July 18, 2013)

'Attorneys question murder suspect's mental status' (Aug. 15, 2013)

'Murder suspect's statements can be used in trial' (Sept. 5, 2013)

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