September 3, 2014 10:23:00 AM
A man accused of shooting two Lowndes County deputies and injuring a third will undergo a mental evaluation before he stands trial.
Kent Coscia was arraigned in Lowndes County Circuit Court Friday afternoon.
The 31-year-old is charged with three counts of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer and one count of shooting into a dwelling. He was indicted on the charges by a Lowndes County grand jury in July, roughly four months after allegedly shooting at deputies in the front yard of his New Hope home.
His attorney told The Dispatch he will plead not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors allege Coscia shot at the deputies from behind the closed front door of his home. The deputies were at the residence to perform a welfare check on Coscia, according to previous statements from Chief Deputy Marc Miley. Law enforcement had been called to the home at the request of a member of Coscia's family. Deputies were provided with a key to the home.
As soon as the deputies put the key in the lock, Coscia allegedly fired through the door, striking three of the seven law enforcement officers on scene, according to Narcotics Commander Archie Williams.
Coscia then exited the home with his hands up, laid the firearm on the ground and was taken into custody, Miley previously said. The firearm was identified as a rifle in the indictment.
The home, located on Drake Circle, sits abandoned, with bullet holes still in the front door.
Coscia is being represented by public defender Rob Roberson out of Starkville. Roberson said he agreed to take the case when public defenders in Columbus cited potential conflicts of interest.
Roberson said he and Cosica met for the first time late last week.
Coscia is in custody at the Monroe County Detention Center. A court date has not yet been set, pending a mental evaluation at Roberson's request.
"If you look at what he's been charged with, there are obviously some issues surrounding why they (the deputies) were even there," he said. "That in and of itself would require a mental evaluation."
Roberson has asked the court for the evaluation to take place within the next six months. It will occur at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield.
Roberson added, "If we can figure what's going on with him, then maybe we can figure out what happened."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.