Originally created 08/30/97

Judge orders mental test in slaying case



The 18-year-old man accused of killing a Richmond County school police officer will undergo a mental evaluation before his case proceeds in court.

Friday morning in Richmond County Superior Court, Judge Albert M. Pickett granted a request from prosecutors to have Bryan Tyrone Williams examined to determine his mental capacity to stand trial and his mental condition on the day Officer Michael Stephenson was shot to death.

Judge Pickett granted defense attorney William Sussman's request to be present during Mr. Williams' examination. Any statements Mr. Williams may make during the examination will not be used against him.

Mr. Williams has pleaded not guilty to charges of felony and malice murder, burglary, interference with government property, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, escape and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

District Attorney Danny Craig intends to seek the death penalty if Mr. Williams is convicted of murder.

In the early morning hours of July 16, Officer Stephenson, 29, responded to an alarm at Jamestown Elementary School in south Augusta. Investigators said witnesses reported that Officer Stephenson arrested Mr. Williams and put him into the back of his patrol car. Investigators believe Mr. Williams fired a gun through the vehicle's side widow, shooting Officer Stephenson, who was standing next to the car.

In his notice to seek the death penalty, Mr. Craig listed two aggravating factors to qualify Mr. Williams' case as a capital murder trial - the victim was a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, and the killing was committed during an escape.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Williams was on probation. In May, he was sentenced to 10 years of probation for burglary.