Baby death cases headed to trial

Franklin man deemed competent after release from mental hospital

A man accused of killing his infant daughter has been released from a state mental hospital and deemed competent to stand trial.

James Cyrus Allan Hendley, 24, Franklin, recently was returned to the Johnson County jail from the Logansport State Hospital, where he had been sent for treatment last year, according to court records.

Court records do not show why Hendley was deemed competent to stand trial and refer to a confidential report from the state hospital.

Hendley received treatment at a state hospital, which determined he was competent to stand trial. He was then brought before the judge, who also found him competent to stand trial, Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said.

In 2015, Hendley was charged with battery causing death on a person younger than 14 years old after police said he shook and threw his 2-month-old daughter when she wouldn’t stop crying. The infant had multiple injuries, including a significant brain injury, and died days later. An autopsy showed she died of blunt force trauma to the brain.

Last year, Hendley was deemed not competent to stand trial and sent to the state hospital. In the months before that decision was made, Johnson County jail records showed he had rapidly deteriorated and was forced to shower, had harmed himself and other inmates and refused to eat, according to court records.

Hendley’s attorney, James MacAbee, declined to comment. Last year, he had notified the court he intended to argue Hendley was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

An attorney can use that defense, and a suspect can still be considered competent to stand trial, Cooper said. Both measure competency, but at different times, he said.

Once an attorney indicates that defense will be used in a case, the court will appoint two to three psychologists or psychiatrists to assess the suspect for the case, Cooper said.

The case is set for another hearing on Sept. 21, and for jury trial on Oct. 31, but those dates can change.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.