Lattus back in court facing murder charge for mayor’s death
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 9:02 pm
Tommy Lattus was back in court Tuesday afternoon, once again facing a murder charge for the Jan. 23 shooting death of then Hickman, Ky., Mayor Charles Murphy.
Lattus was brought back to Hickman from Western State Hospital, where he was undergoing court-ordered psychiatric treatment. He was remanded to the Hopkinsville mental facility in late August after being found mentally incompetent to stand trial for Murphy’s murder.
He has been released from Western State Hospital and is now being held on a $1 million cash bond at the Fulton County Detention Center. He appeared in court Tuesday clean-shaven and wearing a yellow Carhartt® shirt and a pair of blue jeans.
He was brought straight to court from the Hopkinsville hospital. His arraignment lasted less than five minutes.
Lattus, 30, was scheduled to appear back in court at 1 p.m. today for another competency hearing. He will appear before Circuit Court Judge Tim Langford, who will oversee a telephone conference call with his doctors at Western State Hospital.
Lattus was re-indicted for murder by the Fulton County Grand Jury late last week.
Commonwealth attorney Mike Stacy will prosecute the case against Lattus, while Mayfield, Ky., attorney Dennis Null will once again represent Lattus. It was Null who originally represented Lattus, whose Sept. 10 murder trial was called off when he was determined to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. That determination came after an hour-long pre-trial hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse in late August.
“We need to have a hearing on that (Lattus’ competency to stand trial),” Null told The Messenger following Lattus’ arraignment. “We’re not ready to stipulate competency at this time.”
Null was joined by Stacy as they met with the judge in his chambers prior to the arraignment. The conference focused on moving forward with the proceedings, according to Null.
Fulton County Circuit Court Judge Tim Langford has presided over the case and at the August hearing heard testimony from Dr. Richard Johnson, a licensed psychologist at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in Louisville, Ky. Langford then ruled Lattus incompetent to stand trial and sent him to the Hopkinsville mental hospital at the conclusion of the hearing.
Lattus stands accused of entering the Hickman home of Murphy (at 2110 Clay St.) on Jan. 23 and shooting him in his bedroom. Lattus turned himself in to the Hickman Police Department around 1:20 a.m. and confessed to the murder, according to testimony from Hickman police officer Phillip Burnett.
A 12-gauge Beretta shotgun was found on the porch of Murphy’s home.
“The officer noticed forced entry into the home. He found Mayor Charles Murphy in the bedroom. He had been shot and was unresponsive. Officers investigated the scene and interviewed Tommy Lattus at the police station. He confessed to the killing and Hickman Police charged him with the murder of Mayor Charles Murphy,” Hickman Police Chief Tony Grogan stated in his original news release concerning the murder.
Published in The Messenger 11.14.12