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Jurors Find Child Rape Defendant Competent to Stand Trial

13-Jul-2015

A convicted sex offender accused of kidnapping an 8-year-old girl from a Tulsa playground, raping her, and leaving her naked in the woods is competent to stand trial for kidnapping and rape, according to a Tulsa County jury.

Michael Slatton, 34, had twice been evaluated by mental health professionals who deemed him competent, but the defendant's attorney contested both evaluations. 

In one of his evaluations, testified a forensic psychologist, Slatton gave such wildly exaggerated answers that his final score indicated not that he was severely incompetent, but that he was faking in an attempt to appear incompetent. According to the Tulsa World, psychologist Seth Orth explained to jurors that when mental health professionals evaluate competency, scores beyond a specified cut-off indicate that the subject of the test is feigning incompetency. The cut-off is 6; Slatton scored 22.

During his competency trial, Slatton assaulted a prosecutor by picking up a water pitcher off the judge's stand and hurling it at prosecutors. The pitcher hit an Assistant District Attorney in the face, splitting her lip and breaking a tooth. Slatton was subdued by deputies using a stun gun. 

After the outburst, one juror said that he or she could no longer remain impartial in the proceedings, and that juror was dismissed. The remaining jurors said they could continue to be impartial and remained. Jurors agreed with the two forensic psychologists who found him to be competent to stand trial.

As a result of his violent outburst, Slatton is now also charged with assault and battery on an officer of the court, maiming and willful disturbance of a state court. Slatton, who already had an extensive criminal record and was an inmate of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections from 2006 until just six months prior to the kidnapping, has accumulated multiple criminal charges while jailed since his May 2014 arrest.

When he was arrested last spring in connection with the kidnapping of the Tulsa girl, Slatton was charged with kidnapping, first-degree rape of a victim under age 14, rape by instrumentation of a victim under age 14, child abuse by injury, and assault and battery on a police officer. The assault charge came after Slatton allegedly dragged a deputy behind his vehicle for several feet while fleeing from apprehension.

Roughly six months later, in December 2014, he was charged with two counts of transferring bodily fluids upon a State employee. In that case, Slatton allegedly threw feces at two Tulsa County sheriff's deputies.  It is a felony for any person in custody of the state, county, or city to throw, transfer, or otherwise place body fluids--including saliva, blood, urine, feces, or semen--on a government employee.

Just a few months later, in April, he was charged with two additional felony counts of assault and battery upon a detention officer after he allegedly punched two jail officers in the face.

If convicted, Slatton faces life in prison without parole.



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