Day 1: Competency Hearing for Michael Spell - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Day 1: Competency Hearing for Michael Spell

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Monday was Day 1 of a competency hearing for the co-defendant accused of murdering Sidney High School teacher Sherry Arnold.

Michael Keith Spell's attorneys claim the defendant is incompetent and unfit to stand trial

Even after a lengthy medical evaluation from the Montana State Hospital doctors suggest say the defendant can stand trial.

But, the ultimate decision goes back to the scene of the crime.

KULR-8 News' MacLeod Hageman has been following this story for two years.

Reporting live outside the richland county courtroom, Michael Spell's competency hearing ended moments ago on Monday evening. This is the closest live view you'll get of the hearing in the state.

Spell's defense team brought two psychologists to the stand who reported Spell had the IQ of an 11-year-old.

Both doctors say they performed extensive investigations into Spell's past that included reviewing medical records, school records, and interviewing several people from his past.

The report from the Montana State Hospital conflicts with the doctor's testimonies.

State experts report Spell met criteria for intellectual disability, but he could have been "exaggerating it"

Witnesses say Michael Spell would not be able to communicate with his attorneys if he, in fact, had to stand trial due to his intellectual disability.

But to really understand the crime against the victim, we need to paint a picture of who Sherry Arnold really was.

This woman was not just any woman, she was a mother, a grandmother, a teacher, and a friend.

She was missed and loved by so many not only in Sidney but from all over.

I remember attending a prayer vigil some two years ago shortly after she went missing.

Even before the two suspects were arrested and her body was recovered, the entire community turned out for the affair at the Sidney High School gymnasium.

I talked to friends, family and past students who loved Sherry, who traveled across the state just to help look for her some two years ago.

I've got to tell you, it was hard holding back those tears.

There is no doubt sherry's murder changed the community and the court documents read like a scary book.

On January 7, 2011, Sherry went for an early morning jog and never returned.

The only evidence of her disappearance was a running shoe retrieved from a road.

A week later, police arrested two Colorado men, Michael Spell and Lester Waters, and could only charge them with aggravated kidnapping since Arnold's body could not be found.

But on March 21, 2012, nearly two years ago to the day, officers located Arnold's remains in a field in North Dakota.

Since then, Spell and Waters have given conflicting accounts of what happened during the abduction, but in the next day, we should be able to learn whether Spell can stand trial.

Prosecutors report they intend to seek the death penalty if deemed competent.

Even though this is a two-year old crime, the frustration is still fresh on the minds of everyone in this community.

As I stand only miles away from where this crime took place, an eery feeling still looms in the air.