Attorney says he'll seek to declare accused hospital shooter Moretz incompetent for trial

Jeffery Moretz

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI, NDN

Jeffery Moretz

— The lawyer for Jeffery Moretz, accused of shooting and killing his estranged wife in July, said Monday he likely will file a motion to declare his client incompetent to stand trial.

Defense lawyer Jerry Berry said he will "probably" file the motion before the end of the year. Jail staff members have indicated there are competency issues for Moretz, who is charged with second-degree murder, Berry said.

Moretz, 54, is accused of shooting his wife, Christine, 53, as she visited a friend at Physicians Regional — Pine Ridge. The couple had filed for divorce about three weeks before the shooting.

"There's psychiatric issues that need to be explored," Berry said during a case management conference Monday before Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt.

Moretz didn't speak during the hearing but walked into the courtroom, looking clean shaven. In past court appearances, he was in a wheelchair.

Sheriff's deputies said Moretz shot himself in the chin in a failed suicide attempt immediately after killing his estranged wife. He had a tracheotomy following the shooting.

"He's in remarkably good condition considering the circumstances," Berry said after the hearing.

Berry said he expects to file the motion but remained cryptic about the underlying issues.

"There's another level to all of this," Berry said.

Both sides agreed that a trial date is far off. No depositions have been completed, and they likely will be delayed until competency is determined. Another case management conference has been set for Jan. 3.

"We're a long way away from being ready for trial or a resolution in this case," Berry said.

Investigators have linked Christine Moretz to Christopher Serna, the North Naples man accused of killing and mutilating Suzanne Bishop three weeks after the hospital shooting.

Christine Moretz and Christopher Serna began an intimate relationship, those interviewed by police said. Family members and co-workers of Christine Moretz have previously said Jeffery Moretz became angry about the divorce and that he once confronted Serna about their relationship.

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