Judge rules Roswell double murder suspect is competent to stand trial

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Judge rules Roswell double murder suspect is competent to stand trial

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Jeffrey Hazelwood is charged with murder in the deaths of Natalie Henderson and Carter Davis, both 17, behind a Roswell grocery store. He is shown in court last year (left) and May 3, 2017.

The man accused of killing two teenagers behind a Roswell grocery store is competent to stand trial, a Fulton County judge ruled.

Jeffrey Hazelwood, 20, allegedly killed Natalie Henderson and Carter Davis, both 17, during the early-morning hours of Aug. 1 and was charged with their murders two days later. Hazelwood was later indicted on 15 counts, including murder, aggravated assault and sexual battery.

Hazelwood has suffered from extensive mental health issues from a young age, according to his attorneys and professionals who have treated him. Prior to the teenagers’ deaths, Hazelwood had stopped taking his antipsychotic medications, he later told his doctor.

A psychologist said Jeffrey Hazelwood still hears voices, but his meds allow him to control them. The court is taking steps to ensure he does not suffer a mental breakdown.

In February, Hazelwood was moved from the Fulton County jail to Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, where he remained Monday. The medications he was given while in the Fulton jail were not adequately treating his condition, according to Christian Hildreth, the psychologist treating him at the hospital.

Earlier this month, Hildreth and Dr. Selig Cynman, an Alpharetta psychiatrist, both testified at a competency hearing for Hazelwood. Late last week, Judge Shawn LaGrua submitted her 15-page order in which she sided with the doctors’ belief that Hazelwood is competent for trial.

The two teens were each shot in the head and their bodies posed behind a Roswell Publix. (Family photos) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Therefore, based upon the evidence and testimony presented at the competency hearing, including Dr. Hildreth’s opinion that Mr. Hazelwood is competent to enter a guilty plea, as well as this court’s review of the medical records and observations of Mr. Hazelwood’s appropriate in-court behavior during the competency hearing, his apparent willingness and ability to consult with defense counsel when necessary, and his suitable and coherent responses to the court’s questioning during the competency proceedings,” LaGrua wrote in the order.

Natalie and Carter, both high school seniors, had apparently met behind the Publix in King Plaza for a romantic interlude when they were approached by Hazelwood.

Around 3 a.m., Hazelwood allegedly opened the back door of Henderson’s SUV with one hand while holding a gun with the other, he later told police. Hazelwood first shot and killed Davis, he said, before he told police he sexually assaulted Henderson, then shot and killed her.

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