KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Jackson County judge rejected arguments by his lawyers that David Jungerman’s health prevents him from continuing his murder trial.
Jungerman is accused in the 2017 murder of Brookside lawyer Tom Pickert. Jungerman’s health delayed the trial for several days, but it will now resume Wednesday.
Tuesday’s hearing offered a different look for Jungerman. The man who walked in as his trial began was wheeled in Tuesday and even had to be shaken awake as the arguments as to his mental fitness continued.
“The defendant is not competent to proceed in her opinion with trial,” defense attorney Daniel Ross said.
In the days since the state rested their case last Thursday, Jungerman had a COVID-19 exposure. He was tested for and had at least five separate cognitive tests done to see if he could continue in this trial.
“Which qualifies in the moderate impairment range,” the defense’s expert said.
Jungerman was released by the hospital, cleared by the state’s expert, but the defense expert Dr. Lisa Witcher had a different take.
“I diagnosed him with an unspecified neurocognitive disorder,” she said.
Back to that COVID exposure: Jungerman refused to take a COVID test, which the state argued means that he does in fact know exactly what’s going on.
“This is a person cognitively excessing potential outcomes based upon his own decision to refuse a test,” special prosecutor Tim Dollar said.
“Yes,” the defense’s expert said.
“That’s a strategic decision either way you look at it,” Dollar said.
“Yes,” responded Witcher.
They also argued that that the timing of this was inconsistent, and that’s something the judge agreed with, saying he was skeptical of the motives.
In the end, the judge made his decision.
“I’m going to find that he is able to go forward and that he is competent to continue on and participate in his defense appropriately,” Judge John M. Torrence said.
The trial resumes Wednesday at 9 a.m.
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