Government investigators will be allowed to see interviews and other raw information used by a psychologist who evaluated a former corrections officer charged with killing two West Tennessee postal workers, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Jon Phipps McCalla, chief judge for the Western District of Tennessee, said three U.S. Postal Service investigators will be permitted to see the data used by a psychologist hired by defense attorneys to conduct a mental health evaluation of Chastain Montgomery.
Montgomery, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he and his 18-year-old son fatally shot Paula Robinson and Judy Spray after robbing the Henning post office of just $63 in October 2010.
Prosecutors say the shootings opened a crime spree that included two bank robberies in Middle Tennessee. Police killed Chastain Montgomery Jr. in a shootout in Mason in February 2011 after officers stopped him driving a stolen truck.
Federal prosecutors have not decided whether they will pursue the death penalty. Montgomery's mental state is considered an important aspect of that decision.
Montgomery's lawyers said they intend to use the mental health evaluation to show that Montgomery is mentally retarded and asked that only the defendant, the attorneys, and the experts involved in the case be allowed to see the report.
Defense attorney Michael Scholl provided a summary of the evaluation but balked at the government's request for more specific, detailed information backing claims made in the report that Montgomery has a mental defect.
Scholl also said the postal investigators should not be permitted to see the information used by psychologist James Walker to compile his report.
"What does a case agent have to do with a psychological evaluation?" Scholl said in court.
Prosecutor Tony Arvin said the government should be allowed to see the detailed information right away. Prosecutors intend to have their own psychologist examine Montgomery.
McCalla set a Sept. 21 deadline for the defense to turn over the raw information. The government's investigators are "integral to the preparation of this case," the judge said.
McCalla had ordered earlier that the government and the defense cannot distribute any reports concerning Montgomery's mental health to anyone besides attorneys and experts. McCalla will amend the order to add the postal investigators.
A trial date has not been scheduled, though McCalla wants to have a trial this year. The judge has said that the process leading up to the trial has taken too long and the case is his top priority.
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