NAPLES — The lawyer for accused hospital shooter Jeffery Moretz has backed off earlier statements that he might challenge whether his client is competent to stand trial.
Jerry Berry said Tuesday that he won't file a motion to examine Moretz's competency, two months after he said jail staff members indicated there were competency issues. Moretz, 54, is accused of killing his estranged wife, Christine Moretz, 53, in July 2011 at Physicians Regional — Pine Ridge.
"I don't believe I can go forward with (the motion) in good faith," Berry said.
Moretz appears to understand the legal proceedings, the primary factor in determining a defendant's competency, Berry said. A defendant's mental state at the time of a crime doesn't influence legal competency to stand trial.
"I haven't received any information that says he doesn't know what's going on," Berry said.
Collier County sheriff's deputies have said Moretz went into the hospital and shot Christine Moretz in the head, then turned the gun on himself in a failed suicide attempt. He shot himself under the chin, deputies said.
Moretz had previously appeared in court in a wheelchair with a tracheal tube. On Tuesday, he walked into Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt's courtroom for the brief hearing without the tube. Berry said Moretz "is doing much better" health-wise.
Family members and co-workers of Christine Moretz have said Jeffery Moretz as a controlling spouse who suspected his wife was having an affair witwh Christopher Serna, a North Naples man later charged with second-degree murder in the decapitation death of Suzanne Bishop. No motive has been released in the Bishop death.
No trial date has been set. Another hearing has been scheduled for May 7.
"We're a long ways off from figuring out when we can try this case," Assistant State Attorney Mara Marzano said.