04/15/10 — Jury out in Bandy murder trial

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Jury out in Bandy murder trial

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on April 15, 2010 1:46 PM

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William Earl Bandy Jr.

Testimony Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of William Earl Bandy Jr. focused on his mental ability.

Bandy, 29, is accused of killing Fredrick Coleman, 31, in March 2006.

Both sides rested their cases in the trial in Wayne County Superior Court on Wednesday and the jury was to begin deliberations this morning at 9:30 a.m.

Although their diagnoses differed, psychologists for the prosecution and the defense found that Bandy is at least mildly mentally retarded.

However, Dr. David Bartholomew, a forensic psychology expert who both diagnosed Bandy and observed him with other staff members at Dorothea Dix Hospital, in Raleigh, said he believed Bandy was thinking clearly on the day he allegedly shot Fredrick A. Coleman of Hopesway Drive.

"It is my opinion that he did have the mental function that day to form ... intent," said the clinical assistant professor at N.C. State University.

In three separate visits to Dorothea Dix, Bandy spent a total of about 50 days in the hospital, according to testimony.

District Attorney Paige Rouse asked the clinician to describe Bandy's mental state.

"It's my opinion that he has mild mental retardation. That is based on a series of IQ tests administered to him over the course of his elementary school years, high school years. At least a half a dozen."

The doctor described his analysis further, adding that Bandy also had admitted to using cocaine on the day of the shooting.

"Mr. Bandy has some limitations in his ability to reason, in his ability to understand information presented to him, a disability to put it all together, and come to reasonable conclusions," the doctor testified.

However, Bandy's recollection of events on the day of the shooting led the doctor to believe that he was acting in defense of himself.

"The behaviors that he engaged in around that time period, specifically, he felt threatened, so he obtained a gun to protect himself," the psychologist said.

Bandy also fired in the air, presumably to scare Coleman away, also indicating that he was thinking about his own safety during the incident, the doctor testified.

Bandy and Coleman, along with Coleman's family members, had had run-ins in the days leading up to the shooting, Goldsboro Police Sgt. Chad Calloway told the jury on Wednesday.

Richard McNeil, Bandy's attorney, argued that the opinions of nurses who came into contact with Bandy at Dix showed they were concerned with his behavior and ability to reason.

McNeil had Bartholomew read the nurses' notes into the record.

"Patient (Bandy) has been quite loud today, he in intrusive, but does not appear to have an ... awareness about it," Bartholomew said.

The Dorothea Dix clinician continued reading the notes.

"This is three days later. (It says he is) acting very immature. Four days later, it's a couple lines out of another nurse's notes, '(Bandy) remains loud and intrusive ... almost childlike in excitability and physical energy and noise level,'" the clinician read.

McNeil argued that Bandy could not have made informed decisions in a tense situation like his confrontation in the street with Coleman.

"I'm asking, someone with this mental health background, would their reaction (be the same) as someone with no psychiatric history?" McNeil asked of the psychologist.

"I think it really depends," Bartholomew responded. "I think, in general, they probably wouldn't. But there could be a lot of particular factors."

Coleman was shot about 3 p.m. while traveling home in a friend's car on South Alabama Avenue near W.est Spruce Street. He died at Pitt Memorial Hospital.