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Doctor: Woman may have faked mental illness

Last Modified: Thursday, April 04, 2013 10:59 AM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

A psychiatrist testified in 14th Judicial District Court Wednesday that a woman accused of second-degree murder gave answers that would suggest she was faking mental illness.

Nevertheless, Dr. James Anderson said, he could not say that Renee Tyler, 42, is competent to stand trial because she had not provided him with enough information during the March 27 examination.

Tyler stood trial in the February 2010 shooting death of Elliott Thomas, her live-in boyfriend. She was found guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice and sentenced to life in prison.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, however, saying that a sanity commission opened before the trial should have been completed.

According to the 3rd Circuit’s decision, a sanity commission was originally requested by the public defender who initially represented Tyler.

When Ted Hartman became her attorney, he requested to have the sanity commission withdrawn, a request Judge Robert Wyatt granted.

“Once the issue of mental capacity is raised and a sanity commission appointed, no further steps can be taken until the court determines Defendant has the mental capacity to proceed,” the appeals court said.

Louisiana Appellate Project filed the appeal, not Hartman.

Anderson said Wednesday that the examination of Tyler was “very frustrating” because her answers were “oblique.”

Anderson said that when he asked Tyler her birthdate, she said “6-70.” He noted that when Wyatt requested the same information Wednesday, Tyler quickly responded Aug. 6, 1970.

He said when he asked Tyler her full name, she said only “Renee,” and when he asked her to name the days of the week, she said, “They got some.”

He said his questioning reached the point of asking Tyler what color her shoes were and whether she was a woman. Her answer to the first question was that she did not know and she did not answer the second question.

“Anytime I go into this type of detail, someone’s trying to pull the wool over my eyes,” Anderson said.

“I think she is malingering, but I can’t say she is competent because she hasn’t given me enough information,” he said.

Wyatt asked Anderson if he thought re-examining Tyler would be beneficial.

“I think she knows exactly what she’s doing and would do it again,” the doctor replied.

Tyler would benefit from a facility where she could be under observation 24 hours per day, he said.

Hartman said there was no advantage to Tyler being found incompetent to stand trial. He said he was concerned she will not get credit for time served if she is under observation.

“One of the reasons she’s obstinate is she doesn’t trust men. She didn’t tell me about the attempted rape until far in,” Hartman said. “She’s just a depressed, exhausted person who doesn’t want to participate in the system anymore because she’s been beaten down.”

Hartman said that Tyler killed Elliott in self-defense to ward off an attempted rape.

According to the appeals court ruling, Tyler admitted to killing Thomas, telling detectives Thomas “is not gonna mess with me anymore.”

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