Michigan: Grant Taylor could receive second competency evaluation

The attorney for a Lansing man charged with murder in the death of a firefighter is asking for a second state competency evaluation. Grant Taylor, 23, who police said intentionally struck Lansing firefighter Dennis Rodeman with his pickup truck in September, was found competent to stand trial in December by the state's Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

He has a history of mental illness that includes two hospitalizations prior to his arrest, most recently in 2014. Taylor was diagnosed with psychosis and bipolar disorder, among other mental illnesses, and spent a combined 18 days in mental health facilities, according to court records.

Stacia Buchanan, Taylor's court-appointed attorney, filed a motion Thursday seeking another competency evaluation after she met with him in the county jail earlier this month. She told court in her motion that there is a need for the evaluation.

"Mr. Taylor holds beliefs that are not reality such as his associations with governmental entities, his travels, his family, and his experiences," she wrote in the motion.

Buchanan also filed a motion this month opposing efforts by the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office to obtain all reports, documents, recorded jail visits between Taylor and his family and other materials an independent psychologist used in determining Taylor was legally insane at the time of the crash that killed Rodeman.

A hearing on the issues is set for May 11, at which point Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady III could order another competency evaluation.

Buchanan filed notice in December of her intent to use the insanity defense at trial, which is currently scheduled for Aug. 15.

She didn't return a message seeking comment.

Ingham County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lisa McCormick said her office received Buchanan's second motion and is reviewing it. She added that she believes her office is to the materials the independent psychiatrist used for his report.

Rodeman, 35, was killed while he and other firefighters were collecting donations for charity Sept. 9 near the intersection of Cedar Street and Jolly Road in Lansing. Taylor was driving his white pickup truck south on Cedar Street when he stopped at a red light, according to testimony.

Rodeman and Taylor spoke at the driver's side window of Taylor's pickup truck before Taylor became agitated and Rodeman walked away, smiled and waved, according to testimony at Taylor's preliminary hearing, which determined there's enough evidence for him to stand trial.

Taylor drove away aggressively before turning around several blocks later and driving back toward the intersection, according to testimony, before swerving at one firefighter and striking Rodeman.

Police later said Taylor became angered at the traffic backup from the fundraiser and intentionally struck Rodeman before fleeing the scene in his truck. He was arrested a short time later near his home after a pursuit with police.

Rodeman died at a local hospital.

Taylor was referred for criminal responsibility and competency to stand trial evaluations prior to his preliminary hearing.

The criminal responsibility evaluation determines if a defendant is legally insane, which means they lack the capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct or to conform their conduct to the requirements of the law. Mentally ill doesn’t automatically mean legally insane for the purpose of a criminal proceeding.

The forensic examiner who evaluated Taylor last year determined he was mentally ill, but not legally insane, according to court records. Canady granted a request by Buchanan for an independent evaluation, which was conducted between January and March and determined Taylor was legally insane at the time of the crash, according to court records.

Thousands gathered for Rodeman's funeral at Michigan State University's Breslin Center in September and along the procession route from East Lansing, past Rodeman's firehouse and through downtown Lansing to West Carmel Cemetery outside Charlotte.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill April 20 designating a stretch of Business Interstate 96 in north Lansing as "Lansing Firefighter Dennis E. Rodeman Memorial Highway."

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