Man 'competent' for murder trial

Monday, May 12, 2003

Mark Allen Scallorn, 20, of Berryville was found competent to stand trial on capital murder and aggravated robbery charges.

Judge Alan D. Epley's decision came shortly before 8 p.m. Monday evening at the Western District Courthouse in Eureka Springs, as a combination competency and suppression hearing concluded.

Scallorn is charged with the Sept. 4, 2002, death of his uncle, Dale Jetton, while on a camping trip on the west side of the Kings River. Scallorn is alleged to have beaten the man to death with a bat, and taking his wallet containing $402.

Testimony Monday afternoon by Fayetteville psychologist Dr. Gene Chambers described Scallorn as having a tormented childhood, including homosexual molestation at age 3 or 4, and severe beatings. In young adolescence, he had distinct feelings of being different, exhibited anti-social tendencies, and developed a continued pattern of animal mutilation, according to testimony.

Chambers stated that it is evident that Scallorn's thinking is abberant, and that he appears to exhibit symptoms of schizoid and schizotypal behavior.

He said Scallorn tends to not have control over his behavior, which has been aggravated by paranoia and drug abuse, and his reality often consists of "stories" in which he is the power figure. The defense psychologist said that in living out his stories, Scallorn is also subject to to auditory and visual hallucinations.

Chambers opined that at the time of Jetton's death, Scallorn would have been unable to stop his actions, even if he was aware such actions were wrong.

However, testimony by Dr. Michael J. Simon, supervising forensic psychologist with the Arkansas State Hospital, found that Scallorn is able to understand the legal proceedings against him, and is able to assist in his defense.

Simon said that there is no evidence that Scallorn was suffering from a mental disease or defect which would have prevented him from appreciating the criminality of his behavior, or conforming his behavior to the requirements of law, at the time of the crimes.

In support of that, Simon noted Scallorn's apparent attempt to destroy evidence; an alleged threat to his girlfriend that she would go to prison if she told on him, because she was as "guilty" as he was; and his evading capture by police during the early morning hours three days after Jetton's death.

Both psychologists made note of Scallorn's history of drug and alcohol abuse, antisocial personality, and repeated in-house treatment for psychological and psychiatric problems.

According to Simon, Scallorn claims to have selective amnesia about the events which led to his arrest. The state's psychologist noted a 1999 Ozark Guidance Center psychiatric assessment in which the examining psychiatrist found no evidence of delusional thinking or perceptual distortions such as hallucinations.

Attempts by the state hospital to acquire treatment records from a United Methodist Children's Home in Batesville, where Scallorn lived for a period of time, were unsuccessful.

The subject of Monday's suppression hearing was Scallorn's purported confession to police in which 15 lines were struck by Epley. That small portion of the statement consists of Scallorn's attempt to talk to police after being told to leave, after he denied hitting his uncle with a baseball bat.

Physical evidence, including a baseball bat and a wallet found near the Grandview home of the Scallorn family, was allowed.

Court records indicate Scallorn directed his girlfriend, a minor, to the river while he beat his uncle, but that she was able to observe the incident.

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