NORMAN — A man who told a Cleveland County courtroom that he was hallucinating while he testified against a convicted murderer last month has been found fit to stand trial.
The judge presiding over the hearing to review the mental health of the man posted two guards outside the courtroom Tuesday, but later he said he did not intend to make the entire hearing private.
According to court records, a mental health evaluation of Brandon Ke Reed, 20, found him competent enough to stand trial. The evaluation isn't a public record because it pertains to Reed's mental health.
Reed's attorney, Irven Box, requested the mental health evaluation following his client's testimony at Billy Dean Battenfield's July 12 preliminary hearing.
Battenfield, 59, and Reed are accused of stabbing to death an 80-year-old Norman man in November. The much-younger Reed had struck a deal with prosecutors to testify against his accomplice.
Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty for Battenfield, who was convicted of three murders in the late 1970s. He was living in Oklahoma after being released from prison and was still on parole out of Texas.
Clair Owen Pollard, who had befriended Reed years earlier, died of multiple stab wounds. His death — described at length by Reed during his testimony — stretched out over an extended period of time.
During Battenfield's preliminary hearing, Reed talked about an alter ego named “Max.”
He said the unseen entity was in the courtroom during his testimony.
“He never really has anything positive to say,” Reed said in July. “He's just a bad influence.”
Reed also admitted to seeing dead people, including Pollard on the morning of his testimony. He said the dead man, who was wearing a gray suit, waved to him as he waited to testify that day.
“He said something but I couldn't hear him,” Reed said while on the witness stand. “He was walking toward the courthouse ... I saw him plain as day.”
Reed's status as the prosecution's star witness is still up in the air.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors have been told not to comment on the specifics of Battenfield's case and the presiding judge issued a gag order following Reed's testimony.
Hearing was guarded
Two Cleveland County sheriff's deputies stood outside Judge Steve Stice's courtroom Tuesday, preventing the public from attending Reed's competency hearing. Such hearings are normally open to the public, Stice said.
“We had a larger than usual gallery of people here for my normal arraignment docket at 1:30, plus Department of Corrections brought four inmates to be arraigned on various charges that have happened in the prison system,” Stice said. “Just for security purposes, I had them clear the courtroom so that there wouldn't be any security risks for Mr. Reed with a bunch of people in there.”
“They were following my orders,” Stice said. “If there was a misunderstanding … that was on me not being clear. The sheriff's deputies, they did what I told them to do.”