A Ross High School student charged with a January murder has been found competent to stand trial.
Zachary Welsh, 17, who is being tried as an adult on the murder charge for allegedly fatally shooting fellow student Austin Hensley, was in Butler County Common Pleas Court with attorney Richard Hyde, who requested a second psychological evaluation of his teen client.
Welsh’s mental state was first evaluated by the Forensic Evaluation Service Center in Hamilton. At a May hearing, Hyde requested a second evaluation by Dr. Bobbie Hopes. On Monday, after reviewing both reports, Judge Greg Stephens declared Welsh competent to stand trial.
“Both evaluations say he is competent,” Hyde said after the hearing. But he added the teen has “issues.”
Hyde previously indicated the teen has a form of autism.
The teen is scheduled to be back in court on Aug. 10 for a hearing. Hyde said he plans to file a motion to suppress evidence for use in trial. He indicated the motions would focus on Welsh’s Miranda Rights.
According to Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Craig Chadrick, Welsh was interviewed for four hours by investigators.
Welsh was indicted for murder, as well as aggravated robbery, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. He is being held in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bond.
Hensley was found in a house with a shotgun laying against his temple. He died of one shot to the head, and police later learned the shotgun was not loaded.
Butler County Sheriff’s Detective Joe Nerlinger said Welsh originally told him he shot Hensley in self-defense.
During later questioning, Welsh said he intended to rob Hensley of the shotgun, but when he went to “pistol whip” the teen, the gun went off, Nerlinger said. Welsh said he then wiped down the gun, washed his hands and stashed the .38-caliber in a hole in a closet of another room.
“Eventually he came clean, said it was his intention to rob Hensley,” Nerlinger said.
Because of Welsh’s age and the seriousness of the crime, the case was a mandatory relinquishment to adult court.
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