Judge orders jury selection for murder of Monroe Co. deputy to begin in May

Christopher Calmer enters court on August 16th during the first day of his mental competency trial. He is accused of killing Monroe County Dep. Michael Norris in September of 2014 / Eric Mock (WGXA)

FORSYTH, Ga. -- A judge ordered Friday that jury selection for a man accused of killing a Monroe County deputy will begin in May and that the trial will begin in June, barring any further delays.

At a motion hearing on Friday at the Monroe County courthouse in Forsyth, defense for Christopher Calmer asked for a second mental competency hearing, claiming that their client had recently attempted suicide while incarcerated.

However, Judge Tommy Wilson said there was no evidence from experts that Calmer had attempted suicide and therefore denied the defense's request for a second hearing.

Calmer is accused of shooting Monroe County Deputy Michael Norris to death when he and his partner responded to Calmer's home for a suicide call in September of 2014.

In August of 2016, a jury ruled that Calmer is mentally competent enough to stand trial for Norris' murder. That ruling came after witnesses and health experts evaluated Calmer following various incidents in court, one of which ended in Calmer being rushed from the courtroom on a stretcher.

On Friday in court, Defense attorney Gabrielle Pittman said that the defense team had recently had a psychologist evaluate Calmer and that that expert found him to be incompetent. She argued that Calmer's rights will be violated if the judge allows the trial to proceed without another evaluation.

Judge Wilson said that the defense's argument was a "delay tactic," but ordered the court appointed mental health expert to evaluate Calmer again and said that both sides will present their findings on May 3.

Following that hearing, if experts find him to be competent, jury selection for the murder trial will begin May 9. If the experts find him to be incompetent, that early May jury selection will be for a second mental competency trial.

Prosecutors announced in 2015 that they would be seeking the death penalty against Calmer.

Defense Attorney Jonathan Adams said that on May 1, jury selection will begin in Upson County from a pool of 150 potential jurors. Then, on May 2, 150 more potential jurors will be questioned, making a total potential jury pool of 300. On May 9, Adams said the remaining jurors will be questioned by panels to determine who will serve during the trial.

The trial will be held in Upson County.

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