Insanity is raised again in tot's killing; Little Rock man faces trial in ‘road rage’ case

Posted: January 12, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Gary Holmes Sr., 33, (right) faces one count of capital murder and two counts of committing a terrorist act in the death of 3-year-old Acen King (left) in Little Rock on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016.

Gary Eugene Holmes, the Little Rock man accused of killing a toddler in a December 2016 "road rage" shooting, is once again exploring an insanity defense, potentially delaying his February trial.

Holmes asked Thursday for his trial to be moved, citing pretrial publicity.

Holmes, 34, has a yearslong history of psychiatric treatment -- some of which came by court order -- but state doctors pronounced him fit for trial in August, a finding that his lawyer accepted at the time.

At Thursday's hearing, attorney Ron Davis said recent conversations with Holmes' family have led him to conclude that Holmes' mental state needs to be examined by a private doctor as part of his defense strategy.

Davis said he needs time to hire a doctor and that Holmes' mother will have to pay for that examination. The attorney suggested that process might require that Holmes' trial be delayed.

Holmes is charged with first-degree murder, committing a terroristic act and being a felon in possession of a firearm over the slaying of 3-year-old Acen Ahmeer King nearly two weeks before Christmas 2016 in what Little Rock police have described as a "road rage" killing.

The boy, a back-seat passenger in his grandmother's car, was killed when someone fired a gun into the vehicle at Warren and Geyer Springs roads.

In an interview with police, Holmes said he was at that intersection with a gun that accidentally fired when he got out of his car to confront another driver.

He told police that he didn't realize he had the gun in his hand, that the weapon belonged to a passenger in his car and that he did not know the gun was loaded until it went off.

Circuit Judge Barry Sims said he was reluctant to reschedule Holmes' Feb. 13 trial until Davis makes progress toward getting Holmes evaluated by his own doctor. The judge set a Feb. 12 hearing to decide how to proceed.

The judge also told Davis that he needs to put Holmes' motion for a change of venue in writing so prosecutors can respond. If granted, such a motion could move the trial to Perry County.

The first motion Davis made in the case after learning that Holmes' sanity had been called into question before was to have doctors at the State Hospital evaluate Holmes' mental health.

The process took about seven months, with examiners concluding late last summer that Holmes was not mentally ill but exaggerating delusional and paranoid beliefs.

Testing showed he claimed to have "very extreme and uncommon symptoms, rare combinations of symptoms and unusual psychotic systems." His diagnosis was malingering, with marijuana abuse and antisocial personality disorder.

In 2015, Holmes was briefly thought to have schizophrenia, although doctors eventually concluded he was not mentally ill.

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Metro on 01/12/2018