Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the 19-year-old former Santa Fe High School student indicted for committing a mass shooting at his school on May 18, 2018, that left two teachers and eight fellow students dead, has been found incompetent by all three psychological experts tasked with examining him.
Experts for the state, court and defense agreed that Pagourtzis would be unable to stand trial in his current mental condition. The finding means that Pagourtzis’ case will not proceed to trial in February 2020 as previously planned as experts must wait between 120-180 days before reevaluation.
“If he’s restored to competency by then, he comes back, and we kind of restart the clock, and if he’s not there are some other options that are available,” Pagourtzis’ attorney, Nick Poehl, said.
When Pagourtzis returns to competency, experts will begin evaluating him for sanity.
“By law, an expert — a psychologist, psychiatrist, what have you — cannot render an opinion on sanity while a person is incompetent,” Poehl said.
Poehl explained that sanity focuses on the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the offense, whereas incompetency is “just about your fitness to stand trial.”
No experts for the state or the court have evaluated Pagourtzis for sanity. The defense experts’ findings are now moot due to Pagourtzis’ incompetency.
Pagourtzis will be transferred from the Galveston County Jail to a mental health facility for treatment as soon as possible. It is unknown which mental health facility in the state will have availability for Pagourtzis, but Poehl said the court now had the ability to allow for medication to be administered to Pagourtzis while waiting for transfer.
Pagourtzis also has federal charges against him for his crimes, meaning federal authorities must sign off on any transfer. This leaves open the possibility that he could be sent to an out-of-state juvenile facility if he is found incompetent in the federal court system, where he is still classified as a juvenile due to his age at the time of the shooting.
“We aren’t really, necessarily expecting a big roadblock from them, but we don’t take anything for granted because the feds are totally unpredictable,” Poehl said.
Poehl said a unanimous agreement of incompetency among state, court and defense experts is the exception rather than the norm and happens when incompetency is “real, real, real obvious.”
“They were all unanimous that he does not have a rational understanding of the nature of the proceedings against him, the nature of the charges, the roles of the various people involved — the prosecution, the judge, his defense attorneys. He is not — he is not capable of having a rational, sequential conversation that’s fact based,” Poehl said.
Pagourtzis still faces the felony charges against him related to the shooting, but when he might go to trial is now unknown. The trial was moved out of Galveston County after the judge in the case determined publicity made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.