A Fort Smith man accused in the stabbing death of his wife and unborn child outside the city’s police department has been acquitted “by reason of mental disease” in the 2012 slayings, according to court documents.
Judge James Cox ordered James Herring, 35, be committed to a state mental hospital Thursday (Aug. 29).
Herring had been charged with two counts of capital murder. The prosecution originally sought the death penalty.
“He’s had four hospitalizations since 2005 all for schizophrenia and was examined for approximately a year down in the Arkansas state hospital,” said prosecuting attorney Daniel Shue.
A state psychiatrist will be required to file periodic reports with the judge on Herring’s mental state and any request for his release must go through the court.
“They will have to show that he is no longer a substantial threat to any person or any threat they will to show that by clear and convincing evidence,” Shue said.
Police say he stabbed his pregnant wife Celestia Duffin near the Fort Smith Courts Building on May 15, 2012. The woman ran into the police department lobby seeking help and collapsed. She and her unborn baby later died.
The following October Herring underwent a mental evaluation and was found incompetent to stand trial.
A doctor found that Herring suffered from Schizophrenia, according to court documents.