Fort Smith Murder Suspect May Be Exaggerating Brain Injury To Avoid Prosecution, Records Show

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — It’s been three years and five months since a Fort Smith man was charged with capital murder in the death of his ex-father-in-law, but he has yet to face a jury.

The man, Michael Underwood, has had several continuances due in part to a brain injury, which one doctor said may be exaggerated.

“There's not been any closure for us,” Angela Day said.

Day had been divorced from Underwood for 14 months, which is when she said her life changed forever. Police said in June 2013, her ex-husband shot and killed her father at a home on S. 70th Street in Fort Smith. He then shot himself in the head but survived, records show.

“Every three to six months, there's a new continuance,” Day said.

Three years later, his trial has yet to start, which has made the Day family uneasy.

“There's no ankle monitoring bracelet, so we're not aware of what his condition is exactly," Day said. "We've been told different things, but who's to say he can't show up here anytime.

She said she’s afraid for her life. Day said she doesn’t believe her ex-husband planned to kill her father that night. Instead, she believes the bullets were intended for her, because she said Underwood stalked her after the divorce.

“My dad had actually called me that evening after I had left the house,” Day said. “I guess right before it happened, and told me that, 'He's came by, he's asked where you were. I told him you left with a friend.'”

Underwood is being treated at the Spiro Nursing home after the Sebastian County Jail couldn't meet his health needs, records show.

“To me, there's absolutely no reason why he shouldn't be behind bars,” Day said.

Court-ordered medical evaluations have found Underwood is not competent to stand trial because of the traumatic brain injury, which was the result of him shooting himself.

“If you know you're going to go to prison for murdering somebody, how hard are you going to work to regain your memory in a situation like that?” Day said.

On Sept. 29, 2016, another doctor found Underwood may be exaggerating his medical condition to avoid prosecution.

“Hopefully these doctors will get together and their findings will be that is the case," she said. "We'll go to trial and get it taken care of."

Underwood is scheduled for a fitness hearing on Jan. 27, 2017. Prosecutor Dan Shue said he cannot comment on the case, but said if Underwood is found fit to stand trial, the case could face a jury 30-60 days after the hearing.