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Facing Life in Prison, George Wood Is Found Incompetent to Stand Trial; 2 Previous Guilty Verdicts In Question

| June 11, 2018

George Wood after his most recent sentencing, in February, for 10 years in prison. (© FlaglerLive)

George Wood after his most recent sentencing, in February, for 10 years in prison. (© FlaglerLive)

Until today, George Wood, 32, a resident of 15 Pineland Drive in Palm Coast before his arrest, was headed for trial on an armed burglary charge. If found guilty, he faces mandatory life in prison because of his prior records: he’s a convicted felon 14 times over.

On Jan. 25, a Flagler County jury found him guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. On Dec. 8, a jury found him guilty of four charges, including escape. On Feb. 8, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and sent back to the county jail to await his third and final trial, on the more serious and consequential charge that could lock him away for life.

But Monday, Roger Davis, a Jacksonville psychologist, informed his defense attorney that Wood was found incompetent to stand trial in an evaluation the court ordered on March 5. A pre-trial is scheduled before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins on Wednesday. If Perkins ratifies the order, which calls for Wood to be sent to a state psychiatric hospital for six to nine months, that puts a stop to the momentum toward trial on the burglary charge. It also puts in question Wood’s two previous convictions.

“You can’t try somebody that’s incompetent to stand trial. That goes back to our very heart of our legal system,” Wood’s attorney, Josh Davis (no relation to Roger Davis), said today. The same principle applies to his two previous convictions, he said, when somebody should have flagged his competency. Davis says he’ll put in motion whatever appeal mechanism is necessary. “It won’t be a de-facto reversal but it’s pretty stinking close. It’s not like he fell off the roof and knocked his head loose, he’s the same guy now that he was then. I don’t know, that’s a big problem. Big problem.”

Davis, a private attorney, wasn’t representing Wood in the December and January trials. Regina Nunnally, an assistant public defender in Flagler, was. Nunnally did not respond to an email inquiry about the case, asking why Wood had not been evaluated previously and whether the office’s appellate division will be filing an appeal.

Davis said Wood initially doesn’t act in any unusual way. “He acts normal and regular and whatever in court, so it’s not like the prosecutor or the judge would have noticed him,” he said. But in conversation, Davis became curious about his mental health and pursued the issue, getting an order from Circuit Judge Dennis Craig to conduct an evaluation. (Craig has since been transferred to Volusia and was replaced by Perkins.) Wood had a stint in a state psychiatric hospital in Louisiana. He is currently awaiting trial at the Flagler County jail

Getting a declaration of incompetence to stand trial means a defendant does not appreciate the nature or severity of the charges against him or has no ability to make decisions in his defense. The declaration is usually temporary, pending the outcome of the prescribed period at the state hospital.

Wood was sentenced in January on charges involving a murky encounter with police at a convenience store in 2017. There’d been a minor altercation there, prompting the dispatching of a deputy. When the deputy approached Wood, Wood jumped into a car through a window and asked the driver to take off. He was eventually seized and placed in the back of a deputy’s vehicle, from where Wood escaped, running from the convenience store to a residential neighborhood in Bunnell, where a surveillance helicopter, using an infrared camera, located him hiding in a tree. Cops converged, he dropped to the ground and was arrested. It was never clear why he had run from the deputy initially.

An investigation into an unrelated incident had been ongoing. On Oct. 8 or 9, Weidig Gunsmith, a store at 15 Utility Drive in Palm Coast, was burglarized repeatedly. The county was under a state of emergency due to Hurricane Matthew at the time. Power was cut, enabling burglars to go in and out of the store without fear of an alarm going off. According to one of the participants, who later spoke to a detective from a prison cell, he and three other accomplices, among them Wood, stole 41 firearms totaling more than $20,000 in value and ammunition and other accessories totaling $1,100. A SWAT team and detectives recovered 20 of the firearms on Oct. 10 at a house believed to be occupied by Kenneth Kirsch at 142 Espanola Road. Four more firearms confirmed to have been stolen from the Utility Drive store were found in subsequent days, and a few others from unrelated burglaries.

As a crime scene technician was processing the scene at the store, some prints were connected to Wood. He was at the Flagler County jail on charges unrelated either to the burglary or to the escape and firearm possession counts. He denied involvement. Kirsch, who was held at the Nassau County jail, in March last year told investigators that Wood had thought up the plan to burglarize the store to take advantage of the power cut–and that he, Kirsch and two others went into the store on three different occasions that day, driving back each time to 27 Londonderry Drive and splitting the loot. The third time they were seeking to break into the store’s safe, using a machete at one point. It didn’t work.

That’s the armed burglary charge Wood faces. He had been represented by Nunnally in that case until the end of December. The burglary charge is a life felony because he was rearrested within three years of his last state prison stint, making him a prison-release re-offender, which aggravates the potential penalties of a subsequent conviction. He also faces a grand theft charge and yet another charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Davis, his attorney, said the incompetency issue puts all proceedings in question. “It’s going to be a mess. A mess,” he said.

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10 Responses for “Facing Life in Prison, George Wood Is Found Incompetent to Stand Trial; 2 Previous Guilty Verdicts In Question”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Prosecutor for the state should order its OWN expert to do an evaluation. This man’s previous hospital stay would have taught him all he needs to know about how to fake incompetence and mental illness. Search his records for any references to previous hospitalizations for suicidal ideation that just happened to have occurred right before a court date. Another hint–For some reason, despite the fact that they have firearms (often stolen) at their disposal, they always state that their method of killing themselves was going to be to jump out of a window or throw themselves in front of a bus.

  2. howard tessler says:

    His arrest record shows he more than “competent” to partake in a variety of activities, they just all happen to be illegal. What a ridiculous attempt to defend this assh-le .

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    The mental health card again??

    This grows tiresome. Where were these mental health issues when he was out committing these crimes? Why is it about him and not his victims. Victims he took things from by force and now live with that?

    This man was a repeat felon who got caught with a gun. They explain thoroughly to you what’s expected and high on that list of convicted felon nono’s is carrying a weapon.

    Once again we need to back off the mental health train and start holding perpetrators of violent crimes 100 percent responsible for their actions. He chose to take a weapon and go steal from other people. Now he needs to man up and face his time.

    Judges and the SA and DA’s need to stop falling for these stall tactics and sentence accordingly. If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime.

    It seems mental health issues only surface after an individual is caught and is about to go away for a justifiably long time.

  4. Hmmm says:

    Not incompetent to commit crimes but incompetent to do life in prison.

  5. Trailer Bob says:

    It is very frustration that Florida is so lenient with felons. Years ago people were given adequate sentences and kept off the streets. Here in Florida today, it seems like there is a revolving door with no true consequences for ones actions. And, of course, know everyone is “sick” or “incompetent”.

  6. jmb says:

    sounds competent to me went back 3 times to rob the business what a joke this whole mental heath excuse is just that prayer was taken out of schools in 1962 we reap what we sow

  7. Just The Truth says:

    Time for a second opinion. He’s acting.

  8. sam says:

    Put him away now before he kills and it will happen. this incompetent b.s need to stop, committed the crime time to pay.

  9. Really says:

    Incompetent to be free in our Society

  10. Michael Myers says:

    Well then maybe we should let all the people in prison go cuz I’m sure they was incompetent for trial. Or is that because they couldnt afford a good lawyer. That is a selfish lie that’s going to mess his kids future up. If he goes there its gonna show that they may be half crazy. Just shows he dont care about his kids. U do the crime u do the time. He had many of chances to do right. He’s just mad that he got caught.

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