Slaying suspect faked hallucinations

AUBURN, Ala. --- A man accused of killing an Auburn University freshman has been faking hallucinations in jail and is fit to stand trial on an unrelated robbery charge, a psychological exam has determined.


Courtney Lockhart, 23, of Smiths Station, has pleaded not guilty in the March 4 slaying of 18-year-old Lauren Burk, of Marietta, Ga. He also faces several robbery charges.

A Russell County Circuit Court judge in April ordered the psychological evaluation to determine whether Mr. Lockhart was competent to stand trial for a Feb. 29 armed robbery in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Glen D. King, a Montgomery psychologist who performed the exam, determined Mr. Lockhart is "not suffering from a serious mental illness or mental defect" and said his claims of auditory and visual hallucinations aren't credible. He recommended the court find Mr. Lockhart competent to stand trial in the robbery.

Last month, a Lee County Circuit Court judge ordered a separate mental evaluation to determine if Mr. Lockhart should stand trial for both the robbery and Ms. Burk's slaying. The court ordered the results of that evaluation sealed. Legal proceedings in the case have been postponed pending the outcome of the second evaluation.

Lee County District Attorney Nick Abbett was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday, and Mr. Lockhart's attorney, Joel Collins of Opelika, did not immediately return a call for comment from The Associated Press. The court has issued a gag order barring parties to the case from discussing it.

The Birmingham News first reported on the mental evaluation in Tuesday's editions.

According to court records, Mr. Lockhart confessed to police that he abducted Ms. Burk on campus, robbed her, then drove her off campus and shot her.

Mr. Lockhart's attorneys have filed paperwork indicating they may pursue an insanity defense.

The court-ordered psychological evaluation included new details about Mr. Lockhart's history, including that he regularly uses marijuana, has seen his father "only three times in his entire life," and has a 2-year-old daughter.