A judge ruled Tuesday that the man accused of shooting a man to death in a Latter-day Saint sacrament meeting in 2018 in Fallon, Nevada, is incompetent to stand trial.
John Kelly O’Connor, 51, was charged with murder and held on $1 million bail after witnesses said he walked into the worship service and shot Charles ‘Bert’ Miller, a man he had known for years. Both men had been members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Senior District Judge William A. Maddox ruled that O’Connor is unable to assist his attorney in his defense and unable to stand trial after hearing reports from a state-appointed psychiatrist and two psychologists, who examined O’Connor and agreed he lacked the capacity to understand the charges against him or assist in his defense, according to the Lahontan Valley News.
Maddox canceled O’Connor’s trial, which had been scheduled to begin in March 2022.
Witnesses told police and journalists that O’Connor sat on a couch with others just outside the Fallon 3rd Ward chapel while the sacrament service went on inside on July 22, 2018.
When the sacrament service was complete and after the meeting’s first speaker began to talk, witnesses said O’Connor stood up, walked through the chapel’s west door, drew a handgun and at point-blank range shot and killed Miller, a 61-year-old volunteer firefighter.
O’Connor allegedly shouted, “This will show them,” before he shot Miller repeatedly at close range with a nine millimeter hand gun, according to KOLO TV.
Miller’s family had planned a reunion for his 62nd birthday the following weekend.
“Pandemonium broke out,” a church member told the Deseret News. “People were screaming and hitting the ground.”
O’Connor also allegedly shot Miller’s brother and pointed the gun at another church member who confronted the shooter. Duane Miller, who is from Spanish Fork, Utah, was wounded in the ankle.
“It was horrific,” Duane Miller told the Deseret News.
O’Connor immediately left the chapel after the shooting, witnesses said, then walked out of the meetinghouse and to his home a block away, according to police. He surrendered to a police negotiator. Investigators searched the home and recovered a handgun that matched witness reports and the caliber of shell casings found in the chapel, police said.
O’Connor had faced four charges, including first-degree murder, battery with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
Two months after Bert Miller’s death, a judge ordered O’Connor sent to a mental facility where he had been in custody awaiting trial.
Nevada law will require O’Connor to remain in custody for 10 years before a review. A ruling then could result in an additional five or 10 years of custody, according to the Lahontan Valley News.
Charges against O’Connor could be refiled if he becomes competent in the future, a Churchill County chief deputy district attorney said, according to the newspaper.