(Memphis) The wiry, disheveled hair was gone as Chastain Montgomery entered federal court Friday morning.
With his hair cut short and wearing shackles on his wrists and ankles, Montgomery smiled as he entered the courtroom.
Judge Jon McCalla, who could have issued a ruling Friday on Montgomery’s mental ability, instead said he will decide early next week.
Montgomery confessed that he and his son robbed the Henning Post Office in 2010 and killed two female employees.
For months, the two eluded police, until Montgomery’s son was stopped for another crime.
Officers say he opened fire on them and they shot and killed him.
Montgomery was arrested when he came to the scene.
Officers say the two had the same guns used in the Henning murder.
The judge will decide if Montgomery is mentally qualified to be put to death.
“We have an individual who has got multiple IQ scores below the level of 70. Two 61s, a 64 and a 67. The law says if you are intellectually disabled, you cannot face the death penalty,” says Michael Scholl, Montgomery’s attorney.
The hearing on Montgomery’s mental state lasted several weeks last fall.
Despite admitting to planning and carrying out the post office robbery that netted just $63, Montgomery’s attorney says his confession was coerced and he didn’t have a lawyer at that time.
Judge McCalla says potential jurors will be brought in April 1st, with the case set to start April 7th.
His decision on Montgomery’s mental state will have a huge impact on what those jurors decide.
“He has difficulty, obviously because of his mental health situation, understanding what’s going on. Anybody facing this kind of penalty is under a great deal of stress right now and emotion,” says Scholl.
Regardless of what the judge decides about Chastain Montgomery’s mental state, there will still be a trial.
The issue at stake is whether Montgomery will be put to death or spend his life in prison.