Accused cop killer Justin Welch to undergo further mental health testing

Updated: Feb. 3, 2020 at 12:43 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Accused cop killer Justin Welch will be sent to a psychiatric hospital in Nashville, so a Shelby County criminal court can determine if he's competent to stand trial.

Investigators said Welch’s 2016 rampage started when he shot two people at Westy’s, killing Joshua Walton, then shot an employee at Bass Pro Shops before driving to Beale and Third, where his car slammed into Memphis Police Officer Verdell Smith’s car.

Smith died from his injuries.

Welch's murder trial was set to start Monday, but late last week questions over his competency were raised.

A state social worker told the court Welch "appeared grossly psychotic."

After a review of his medical records shows Welch stopped taking his prescribed medication for the past five months.

Welch was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features.

Judge Mark Ward ordered him to be transported to the Middle Tennessee Mental Institute on Wednesday, to undergo additional mental health testing.

It's unclear when that testing will be completed.

Judge Ward said once the court receives an evaluation for Welch, the court will want to hear from his doctors.

Ward went ahead and set a trial date for September, but says that could likely change.

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