One of three experts says Centerville man isn’t mentally competent to stand trial

Sep 19 2012 - 8:34pm

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Michael Selleneint appears for a competency hearing at Second District Court in Bountiful, Utah September 19, 2012 (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Michael Selleneint appears for a competency hearing at Second District Court in Bountiful, Utah September 19, 2012 (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Michael Selleneint appears for a competency hearing at Second District Court in Bountiful, Utah September 19, 2012 (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Michael Selleneint appears for a competency hearing at Second District Court in Bountiful, Utah September 19, 2012 (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Michael Selleneint appears for a competency hearing at Second District Court in Bountiful, Utah September 19, 2012 (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Michael Selleneint appears for a competency hearing at Second District Court in Bountiful, Utah September 19, 2012 (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)

BOUNTIFUL -- A judge will rule by the end of the month whether a 54-year-old man accused of shooting his neighbor is mentally competent to stand trial.

Michael L. Selleneit, of Centerville, appeared before Judge Thomas L. Kay in 2nd District Court in Bountiful on Wednesday. The four-hour hearing was held to hear the testimony of three forensic evaluators concerning their findings about Selleneit.

Selleneit is charged with first-degree felony attempted murder and second-degree felony possession of a firearm by a restricted person.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Selleneit told Centerville police officers he shot Tony R. Pierce, 41, who lived next door, on Oct. 30, 2011, because Pierce had been telepathically threatening to kill him and was telepathically raping Selleneit's wife.

Kay set a hearing for 2:30 p.m. Sept. 27, in 2nd District Court in Farmington, where he will announce his ruling.

Selleneit's wife, Meloney Toone Selleneit, 54, was found incompetent to stand trial in April and was sent to the state hospital for treatment. She is charged with the first-degree felony of criminal solicitation and second-degree felony of purchase, transfer or possession of a firearm by a restricted person.

She told her husband to "go for it" just before he shot Pierce, according to police.

Testifying at Wednesday's hearing were Dr. Eric Nielsen, Dr. John L. Malouf and Dr. Beverly O'Connor.

Nielsen determined that Selleneit was incompetent to stand trial, while Malouf and O'Connor found he was competent to stand trial.

Nielsen, who was chosen by defense attorney Julie George, said Selleneit suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 1966 car accident. He was in a coma and then had to learn to walk and talk again.

Nielsen said Selleneit has a form of paranoid schizophrenia and also has muscular dystrophy, which impacts his speech. Nielsen said Selleneit has had delusions, brought on by the paranoid schizophrenia, about his neighbor for many years. He also hears voices. It was those voices that caused Selleneit to shoot Pierce, he said.

The other two psychologists, Malouf and O'Connor, said Selleneit is delusional but understands the court process.

Both said the defendant, who is being held in Davis County Jail in lieu of $500,0000 bail, was polite and cooperative during their interviews with him, which lasted several hours.

They said he was difficult to understand at first because of his speech impairment, but Selleneit was willing to repeat himself until they understood him.

O'Connor said when she asked Selleneit if he understood he could go to prison for shooting his neighbor, he said yes.

He then said that "he couldn't handle prison again and he wanted to go to the state hospital," O'Connor said. Selleneit repeated several times during the interview that he wanted to go to the state hospital, according to O'Connor.

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