Hampton Still Can't Stand Trial

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A mentally-handicapped teen accused of assaulting an elderly woman last June was once-again deemed incompetent to stand trial.

Philip Hampton is accused of entering a Bryan home and attacking a woman, cutting off part of her nose. Hampton has spent the past 150 days at a state facility in Vernon.

His second appearance in 85th District Court ended with the same result as the first. And that is what has his family and his lawyer concerned.

Since he's been at Vernon, Hampton's behavior has worsened, with verbal and physical assaults, and even an escape attempt. The family feels that facility or one like it won't help Hampton improve, meaning he'd never be competent for trial.

"He just ends up in this constant loop coming back to court because he can't ever pass a dangerous review board," said attorney Craig Greaves.

Hampton has been deemed mentally ill, but he has not received a mental retardation evaluation. However, Judge J.D. Langley ordered one as part of Thursday's hearing.

The family claims Hampton is both schizophrenic and retarded. Article 46B.102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with mental illness, and talks about commitment to a "mental health facility." The very next section deals with mental retardation, and is almost a mirror of the previous section, except it talks about commitment to a "residential care facility."

Hampton's defence says if upcoming tests show him to be retarded, a judge could then order Hampton to a more appropriate facility to deal with retardation, one which the family believes would improve his mental state.

"When he comes back, under that, we can go to the health and safety codes, and we can get the board behind us," said Hampton's father, Aust. "Therefore, the family will have some decision in what's happening to him."

The District Attorneys Office has a different view, saying the wording differences are still referring to the same facilities.

"I think that the family's emotions are understandable, but I think emotions often times get in the way of seeing the facts," said Margaret Lalk with the DA's office.

And as Hampton left court for the second time in half-a-year, two questions still lingered: where he should end up, and whether his competency to stand trial hangs in the balance.

The Hampton family also says a mental health court, not a district court, is the proper place for Hampton's case. There is no such court in Brazos County.