Psychologist: Tulsa courthouse shooting defendant has 'incorrect beliefs about reality'
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
8/14/12 at 5:20 PM
A man who described himself as the best friend of a Tulsan who is accused of shooting a deputy outside the Tulsa County Courthouse last March testified Tuesday that the suspect did not seem to him to have mental health issues.
“He seemed normal to me,” Andy Johnston said of Andrew Joseph “Joe” Dennehy, who is charged with multiple crimes related to the March 7 shooting outside the courthouse at 500 S. Denver Ave.
Dennehy, 24, is charged with two counts of shooting with intent to kill, one count of possessing a firearm after being adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court, and one count of reckless conduct with a firearm.
He is accused of shooting Sheriff’s Deputy David Fortenberry in the hands March 7 after firing a gun into the air on the plaza outside the courthouse.
Johnston, 25, said he has known Dennehy about 10 years and that about two years ago Dennehy started speaking of conspiracies involving the Free Masons and the Illuminati.
Called to the witness stand by the prosecution during Dennehy’s mental competency trial, Johnston said Dennehy talked of such theories a lot but didn’t indicate any intention to act on those beliefs.
Johnston said he never saw Dennehy misuse firearms.
“Joe was not a violent person like that,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Curtis Grundy, a psychologist retained by the defense to mentally examine Dennehy, testified that Dennehy has “incorrect beliefs about reality” and has experienced hallucinations.
Grundy told jurors that Dennehy has a very complex delusional belief system that is “bizarre in nature” and involves the Free Masons and Illuminati.
The merit of the criminal charges against Dennehy will not be resolved as a result of this week’s trial. Instead, the trial is to determine only whether Dennehy is mentally competent to face prosecution on the charges.
The test for competency focuses on whether a defendant can appreciate the nature of the charges against him, consult with his attorney and rationally assist in preparing a court defense.
Grundy testified Tuesday that while Dennehy has a “basic, elementary” understanding of what he is accused of, Dennehy’s consistently delusional beliefs prevent him from adequately communicating with counsel and assisting in his defense.
Dennehy has expressed concerns about the Free Masons and Illuminati infiltrating the court proceedings, Grundy told the jurors.
Grundy also testified that Dennehy has said he felt as if he was being followed in the days leading up to the March 7 shooting.
According to Grundy, Dennehy has also expressed beliefs such as tunnels at the Denver International Airport being used by conspirators as holding cells for Christians as part of a plan that is meant to end in mass executions by guillotine and that a neighbor’s house was built by members of the Warren Commission, the panel that investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
If Dennehy is found competent, court proceedings regarding the criminal charges can proceed. If not, Dennehy faces being sent to a facility for treatment in an attempt to restore him to competency.
Grundy testified Tuesday that he believes that Dennehy can be restored to competence “in a reasonable amount of time” if he is treated at the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita with a regimen that would include anti-psychotic medication.
Grundy said testing indicates that Dennehy is not faking his symptoms, although Assistant District Attorney Tony Evans has maintained that the defendant is “trying to bluff his way through life.”
Later Tuesday, the prosecution called three witnesses to the stand who have dealt with Dennehy since the shooting. They all said Dennehy has ever spoken to them about the conspiracy theories he reportedly has espoused.
The case is expected to go to the jury for a competency ruling Wednesday.
Courthouse shooting defendant Andrew Joseph Dennehy is escorted by deputies into a mental competency trial on Monday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World