Accused cop killer deemed incompetent to stand trial

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A man accused of killing a Memphis police officer is unable to stand trial, according to a judge.

Justin Welch is accused of shooting three people and running over officer Verdell Smith during a 2016 crime spree in Downtown Memphis. Smith died from his injuries, as did one of the shooting victims, Josh Walton.

Complete Coverage: Officer killed in Downtown Memphis crime spree.

Welch's defense team said he needs mental care and should not stand trial for the crimes.

Throughout Tuesday's hearing, Welch had multiple outbursts and even laughed out loud at a seemingly random moment.

Judge Mark Ward said it was obvious Welch has some sort of mental condition.

"I'm going to order him to take medication. That's a common sense thing, when he's taken the medication he's competent, when he doesn't take the medication he's incompetent," Ward said.

During the hearing, prosecutors played an audio recording from a jailhouse phone call Welch made recently.

On the phone call, Welch can be heard saying facts of what happened during his crime spree are missing from the police report. He also said people who say he's not mentally competent are wrong.

Still, the judge ruled Welch was currently incompetent. He said it appears Welch has not been taking the medication he should be taking.

The case is due back in court Tuesday. Their attorneys will decide how Welch will be required to take his medication.

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