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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local June 29, 2015

4/9/2012 9:56:00 PM
Sutton, accused of killing girlfriend, competent; trial date set
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - A second mental exam has shown Zachary Sutton, who had previously been found incompetent to stand trial for first-degree murder, is now competent to stand trial, and a judge on Monday set a date for it to begin.

In January 2011, the body of Carey L. Johnson, 44, was found in the burnt-out bedroom of a house in the 700 block of Campbell Avenue.

A Prescott Police Department spokesman said Johnson, Sutton's girlfriend, died from multiple stab wounds before the fire started.

Lt. Andy Reinhardt said detectives arrested Sutton after he admitted "to detectives that he killed her prior to starting the fire."

Sutton's attorney, Robert Gundacker, had been arguing that his client was not competent, and asked for a second opinion after a doctor found Sutton competent to participate in his own defense.

In court Monday, Gundacker told Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley that the "independent evaluation" also found Sutton competent and said they were willing to stipulate to that fact and to go to trial.

Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Dana Owens said that, "given his fragile (mental) condition, I'd like to proceed as soon as possible."

• But Gundacker said his schedule was tight enough that he couldn't be prepared quickly.

• Ainley set the 11-day trial to begin Sept. 6.

Related Stories:
• Sutton now competent to stand trial in murder case; his lawyer wants second opinion
• Suspect in stabbing death of girlfriend found not competent to stand trial
• Lawyer questions county's competency program
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