Court rules Wood fit to stand trial

Published 12:07 am Thursday, October 25, 2007

VIDALIA — The Seventh District Court ruled Wednesday that the Ferriday teen accused of murdering his parents and a neighbor is competent to stand trial.

Conner Wood, now 16, was indicted in May on three counts of first-degree murder in regard to the deaths of his parents John and Jerri Wood and 16-year-old neighbor Matthew Whittington.

A three-person sanity panel was formed when he changed his original plea of “not guilty” to “not guilty by reason of insanity” in June.

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All three members of the panel met and interviewed Wood, and reported their findings to the court.

The panel’s reports were entered into court record as a joint filing by Assistant District Attorney Brad Burget and Wood’s attorney Paul Lempke Wednesday.

“The court has reviewed these reports and there is clear, incontrovertible evidence the defendant is competent to stand trial,” Judge Leo Boothe said.

All three reports agree as to Wood’s mental state, Burget said.

“The reports speak for themselves,” he said. “All three reports say Mr. Wood is competent to stand trial.”

Lempke offered no rebuttal to Burget’s comments.

“The reports say what they say,” Lempke said.

Wood, appearing in correctional facility stripes, did not show any emotion in reaction to the ruling.

Boothe gave Lempke until Dec. 21 to file any further motions in regard to the case.

“In most cases, we give 30 days (to file further motions), but do to the complexity of the matter I am going to grant 60 days,” he said.

The state will have until Jan. 18 to respond to any motions filed, Boothe said.

Early on the morning of March 14, the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office received a call from Wood stating someone had broken into his residence and killed his parents.

He reportedly told them he had found a gun and killed the intruder, Whittington, who lived in the same neighborhood and was reportedly his friend.

Although he is being tried as an adult, Wood is ineligible for the death penalty because of his age.