Petetan Sentencing Bogs Down With Medical, Legal Lingo Debate - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Petetan Sentencing Bogs Down With Medical, Legal Lingo Debate

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(KCEN) - More witnesses and more delays, as the Carnell Petetan, Jr., murder trial in McLennan County draws closer to a sentence.

Petetan faces the death penalty after being convicted Monday of shooting and killing his estranged wife in 2012.

Court recessed for an early and long lunch after the defense provided the state with more than 100 pages of new documents Thursday morning.

Then Thursday afternoon, the prosecution challenged defense attorneys over language in Powerpoint presentations expert witnesses plan to use during testimony.

The court bogged down with plenty of technical jargon, and none of the planned witnesses actually took the stand in front of the jury.

The court spent 45 minutes going through individual slides in the presentations without the jury in court. The judge agreed with prosecutors to change phrases in those presentations.

Some of that language referenced medical definitions instead of legal ones. For instance, the defense presented Petetan as having an "intellectual disability."

Judge Ralph Strother sided with the state, and attorneys had to change that to "mental retardation," since that's been the legal phrase they've used in the rest of the trial.

It all got a little technical, and even Strother seemed frustrated by the jargon. A couple times he took off his glasses and rubbed his face and eyes with his hands.

At one point he asked the bailiff to "tell the jury we'll get to them when we get to them."

They never did get to the jury, though. The judge let them go home around 2:45 p.m. Then prosecutors talked to the doctors about what they planned to testify to Friday.

Dr. Ellis Craig said given the evidence, he thought Petetan "probably still qualifies for a mild mental retardation diagnosis."

But another witness for the defense walked back her assessment slightly.

Given just her own testing, Dr. Joan Mayfield said, "I really cannot give him a diagnosis of mental retardation."

Instead she said she'd call it "global deficits," which basically means based on her tests, he had multiple areas of impairment.

Again all of this happened without the jury in court, so tomorrow they'll hear the official testimonies from these doctors, plus one other the defense prepared.

Earlier in the day, the jury heard from a pastor at the jail. He testified Petetan couldn't hold a conversation and his mind kept wandering off.

"Why does he keep staring at me like that?" Edmond Stewart remembered about his conversations with Petetan. "The other men don't, but he does."

The judge told the jury before they left he expects this final phase of the trial to go into at least the first part of next week.
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