Man suspected of shooting wife will stand trial next term

February 23, 2010 9:22:00 AM



The murder trial of George Pate -- who is accused of shooting his wife to death -- has been continued until a time to be determined, according to Lowndes County Circuit Court. 


Sixteenth Circuit Judge James T. Kitchens was scheduled to hear Pate''s case Monday, but is currently preparing a jury for the unrelated murder trial of Michael Shane Richardson. 


Jury selection for the Richardson trial began this morning; there may be a jury selected by this afternoon or Wednesday morning 


Richardson, 30, of 126 Matson Road, who admitted to the 2006 baseball-bat beating death of 57-year-old Harvey J. Evans, was scheduled to appear in Lowndes County Circuit Court in November. 


Richardson previously was found to be "paranoid and psychotic," and to exhibit signs of "mild mental retardation," according to reports from Dr. Mark Webb of the Mississippi Neuropsychiatric clinic in Ridgeland. The Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield on three separate occasions found Richardson competent to stand trial. 


Richardson''s sister, April Richardson, maintains he is not competent to stand trial and doesn''t understand what''s going on. 


"That''s why he gets so mad," she said. "He doesn''t understand what''s going on. He thinks he can come home - has thought that for three years." 


While MSH''s Dr. R. McMichael said the defendant did "have some genuine symptoms of mild cognitive impairment," he seemed to "grossly exaggerate those symptoms." 


"He''s not even competent when he''s taking his medication," April Richardson noted. "It''s to make him calm down, so he won''t be so aggressive." 


April Richardson also maintains her brother was manipulated into taking Evans'' money and hitting him with the bat as part of a plot to buy drugs: "They used my mentally ill brother to get money for drugs." 


Michael Richardson lived near Harvey Evans for more than two years and "would have never done that on his own," his sister added. 


Additionally, Michael Richardson''s sister questions the validity of the autopsy performed on Evans, since Steven Hayne -- the embattled medical examiner whose faulty DNA evidence and testimony led to the false convictions of other murder suspects -- was used by the state for autopsies at the time.  


Authorities report Evans died in January 2007 from injuries sustained from Richardson''s Sept. 19, 2006 baseball bat blow to the head. 


April Richardson said Evans was released from the hospital after being treated for being hit "one time with a baseball bat" and later returned to the hospital where he died with symptoms of pneumonia. 


Richardson turned himself in the day after the incident and confessed to Lowndes County sheriff''s investigators he robbed Evans at his 122 Matson Road home and hit him with a baseball bat. 


Richardson went to Evans'' residence and asked for a cigarette, investigators reported. When Evans turned, Richardson hit him in head with a baseball bat and stole two wallets containing about $2,500. 


Evans'' female companion was home and saw the suspect after the incident; she was able to identify Richardson, a neighbor. 


Pate, 56, of 415 Eighth St. S., is charged with the murder of his wife, Peggy Pate, who was found dead in the couple''s home on March 11 of last year. 


She had been shot with a large-caliber handgun; George Pate was found nearby, unconscious from ingesting a pharmaceutical cocktail. 


He was revived at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle then spent more than a week at Baptist Behavioral Health-Willowbrook, due to concerns he was suicidal, before being jailed. 


On March 25, Kitchens rejected George Pate''s request for a court-appointed attorney. 


Municipal Court Judge Curtis Austin set George Pate''s bond at $750,000 during a brief hearing on April 16. 


He was arraigned on Aug. 17 and was denied bond; days later, on Aug. 24, Kitchens ordered a mental evaluation to decide whether or not George Pate is competent to stand trial.