Aaron Lawson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder regarding the April 2011 shooting deaths of Charles “Eddie” and Debbie Phillips.
Tuesday, defense attorney Randy Rogers addressed the court about Lawson’s mental state at the time of the reported murders.
District Attorney General Stephen Hatchett disagreed with the introduction of some of the alleged expert testimony which the defense planned to present.
In court document motion, Hatchett requested the court “find the proposed expert testimony relating to the defendant’s inability to form premeditation be found inadmissible.”
Hatchett also noted in the motion, “It is well established law in the state of Tennessee that a defendant can offer expert testimony to negate the requisite culpable mental state. For expert testimony to be admissable, the testimony must meet two prongs. (1) The defendant has a mental disease or defect and that (2) because of the mental disease or defect, the defendant lacks the capacity ... for the requisite mens rea (Latin for ‘Guilty Mind).’”
Rogers argued that over time, Lawson had been on at least “eight medications” for mental disease or defect.
According to investigative reports from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Lawson allegedly went to the couple’s Leatha Lane residence on April 19 and shot them outside their home.
The shooting reportedly stemmed from a domestic situation in connection with the Phillips’ grandchild. Lawson is reportedly the estranged father of the child.
“To the contrary, the report goes into great detail about the defendant’s abuse of illegal narcotics and the effects this illegal drug use has had on the defendant. The only mention of what could be considered a mental disease or defect is a finding of a ‘history of mood disturbance, probably (emphasis added) of a bi-polar type, another condition that can result in uncontrollable rage and impulsive behavior,” noted Hatchet in his motion.
The Court of Criminal Appeals will decide whether or not to accept the appeal. If the appeal is accepted then the Court of Criminal Appeals will render a ruling on the admissibility of the evidence, according to Hatchett.
Bradley County court officials burned the midnight oil contacting the jury panels who were scheduled to report to the court for the trial Tuesday.
According to Bradley County Court Clerk Gayla Miller, as a courtesy, all panels were contacted by midnight and informed not to report for the jury selection process.