Judge rules accused Deerfield Twp. shooter competent to stand trial

Psychologist described bizarre incidents
Accused Warren Co. shooter competent for trial
Posted at 3:09 PM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 08:29:25-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- After in-depth testimony from a psychologist describing bizarre incidents, a Warren County judge ruled the man accused of shooting a Warren County deputy is competent to stand trail.

In court, Mohammed Laghaoui was depicted as paranoid and delusional by the psychologist ordered to evaluate his mental competence to stand trial.

"(Laghaoui) believed he swallowed a pill that turned into a snake," the psychologist said. She also said Laghaoui said he wanted to sleep on the roof, was convinced bugs were covering his body and believed African Americans were poisoning his food.

He also insisted on being called "Frank," the psychologist told the court. Laghaoui's parents told the psychologist that their son used the alias "Frank" to gamble online.

The psychologist said she believed Laghaoui, 19, is not competent to stand trial. She said he is severely mentally ill.

The prosecution said it believed Laghaoui did not cooperate with the psychological evaluation. 

Judge Michael Gilb decided to rule against the psychologist's findings and ruled Laghaoui competent to stand trial.

Deputies said Laghaoui shot his father in the hand and opened fire on Barnes when she responded to a 911 call from the family's apartment in Deerfield Township on June 9. One of the shots Laghaoui fired that night entered a child's bedroom in a neighboring apartment.

RELATED: Deputy's assailant shot into son's bedroom, neighbor says

Barnes was shot the second time she responded to the Orchards of Landen apartment complex that night. Earlier in the evening, Laghaoui's brother called 911 and reported that Laghaoui threatened to kill him and his father. Laghaoui punched a family member in the face and left their apartment in a rage, deputies said.

In court, prosecutors said the argument that led to the shooting began over hummus and fasting for Ramadan.

According to court documents, neither Laghaoui's family nor Barnes knew Laghaoui was armed with a semi-automatic weapon until the moment he opened fire: first on his father through the closed apartment door, then on a neighbor who witnessed the altercation — and then on Barnes.

Deputy Katie Barnes

Laghaoui was initially charged with two counts of felonious assault, one count of attempted aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder. Now, as part of the 10-count indictment, Laghaoui also faces charges of tampering with evidence for tossing the gun police said he used in the shooting.

If convicted on all ten counts, Laghaoui could face up to 68 years in prison, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said.

Barnes had never used her gun in the line of duty before that night. She fired four shots at Laghaoui and radioed for help as she retreated to cover. Amid the sound of gunshots in the complex and voices on her radio, she did not notice that she had already been hit by one of Laghaoui’s rounds.

LISTEN: 911 calls from Deerfield Township shooting

The bullet struck her gun belt and grazed her lower abdomen, tearing away at the skin. If the belt had not been in the way of the bullet, the situation could have been dire.

“There is a lot of luck that went into this,” Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims said. “Most of us have an understanding of what would happen if it hit her head-on.”