Nevada County judge rules DA can hire psychological expert | SierraSun.com

Nevada County judge rules DA can hire psychological expert

The judge in the murder case of Jason Schuller ruled Friday that prosecutors can hire their own psychiatrist to examine the defendant before his retrial.

Prosecutors filed a motion earlier this month asking that Dr. Kris Mohandie, who’s appeared on TV shows like “Paradise Hotel,” test Schuller before a new jury determines if he was legally insane when he fatally shot William Tackett, 67.

Schuller’s public defender argued in a motion that forcing him to speak with Mohandie, hired by prosecutors, would violate his right against self-incrimination.

Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger ruled Friday that Schuller waived that right by using his mental status as a defense.

“I do find that it is appropriate and reasonable,” the judge said of Mohandie’s hire by prosecutors.

Attorneys now are expected to hold a Feb. 23 hearing to determine if they’re prepared for a retrial on March 6.

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Authorities said at the Friday hearing that Schuller refused to go to court that morning. Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said if he refused an examination by Mohandie, it could be used against him in court.

A jury last month convicted Schuller of first-degree murder in the March 2016 death of Tackett. Schuller’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity led to a second phase of trial, in which jurors had to decide if he was sane at the time of Tackett’s death. They could reach no decision, forcing a retrial on the second phase only. Schuller remains convicted of first-degree murder.