Following a mental evaluation, a Benton County man accused of killing a baby boy last summer was found competent to stand trial, said Van Stone, county prosecuting attorney.
Michael Proffitt of Rogers was found competent during a hearing Monday (Aug. 27) before Benton County Circuit Court Judge Robin Green, the prosecuting attorney said.
Proffitt is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 2 for a hearing on a motion by his defense attorneys to suppress evidence in the case, Stone said.
Green suspended court proceedings against Proffitt in February after Proffitt’s attorneys requested the suspected killer undergo a mental evaluation at the state hospital. The evaluation was completed, but the results were not made public by the court.
The defense then requested its own mental evaluation for Proffitt, which Green granted and set for July 8. The notes on that report were expected to be completed and turned over to court personnel in time for Proffitt’s mental status hearing on Aug. 26 in Circuit Court, according to court documents.
Proffitt’s attorneys announced earlier this year that they are trying to suppress statements made by the suspect to police that they said may incriminate their client. Tim Buckley, one of Proffitt’s attorneys, said the suspect did not talk to police voluntarily and did not have the intellectual capacity to understand the situation when the suspect told police he shook the 11-month-old boy because he would not stop crying, according to a motion submitted by Buckley to the Benton County Circuit Clerk’s Office in February.
Proffitt was arrested in June 2012 on suspicion of capital murder. His son was the fiancé of the baby’s mother, police said.
During an interview with police May 30 of last year, Proffitt was not read his Miranda rights by detectives. The next day, while talking to detectives, the suspect agreed to take a polygraph test the next week. The polygraph test was designed specifically to deceive Proffitt and make him seem guilty, the motion states.
“The situation itself was coercive,” the motion states of Proffitt’s first interview with police. “Defendant was in a small motel room with two police detectives who were aggressively seeking information about a very recent crime.”
The motion goes on to state that Proffitt was intimidated by police.
Proffitt was babysitting the child at the 8th Street Motel in Rogers when the baby was injured, police said. A witness told 5NEWS that when emergency officials took the boy from the motel room, the child’s injuries were evident.
“EMT comes up here and gets the little boy and they hurry up and rush him down, and he is black and blue,” said Viola Harris, 8TH Street Motel front desk worker.
The baby was taken to Mercy Medical Center for treatment. While the baby was in the hospital, the police department began an investigation that included interviews with family members. The baby was later taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, where he died two days later.
Proffitt told police he became frustrated when the child would not stop crying, the affidavit states. Proffitt told officers he became frustrated with the child and shook him about once a month.