Man accused of fatally shooting neighbor will get second competency evaluation

911 caller tells dispatcher Okeana shooter thought victim ‘was a Democrat.’

HAMILTON — Competency for trial is in question for a Morgan Twp. man accused of shooting and killing his neighbor in Okeana.

Austin Combs, 27, was booked into the Butler County Jail just hours after the fatal shooting on Nov. 5, 2022. A week later, a Butler County grand jury returned an indictment that upped the charge against Combs to aggravated murder with a gun specification.

Anthony Lee King, 43, died of multiple gunshot wounds in his yard that neighbored Combs’ residence.

On Monday, Combs was back in court for a pretrial hearing. His attorney, Chris Pagan, filed a motion questioning Combs’ competency to stand trial. A forensic psychologist hired by the defense determined Combs is incompetent.

Assistant Prosecutor Katie Pridemore requested a second evaluation. Combs is scheduled to be back in court March 13 for a hearing on the results of the second competency evaluation.

Incompetent for trial means the accused does not understand the charges and proceedings and cannot assist in their own defense.

In some cases, the defense or the prosecution may disagree with the first evaluation and either side can request can request a second. If those evaluations are different, a third can be ordered by a judge before a ruling is made.

According to prosecutors, Combs stabbed his father in 2017. Pridemore stated that while Combs was not convicted of assault on his father, he admitted to the incident during questioning with police, and his father corroborated.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

According to Butler County Sheriff’s Office detectives, Combs admitted to shooting King in the yard of his Chapel Road residence “several times with a revolver.”

Family members called 911 after hearing shots and finding King in the backyard unresponsive and bleeding. A family member told the dispatcher a neighbor had confronted King before about perceived political affiliation.

“My neighbor just shot my dad,” a male tells dispatchers.

The caller’s mother was sobbing in the background, and the dispatcher told them to stay inside and keep the doors locked.

The victim’s wife then told the dispatcher they were cutting grass and working in the yard when she came inside to let the dog out. That’s when she heard gunshots, she said.

“I look in the backyard and that man is walking away from my husband, and my husband is on the ground,” the woman said. “He has come over like four times confronting my husband because he thought he was a Democrat. Why, why … Please, I don’t understand.”

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