Accused murderer to be evaluated


Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 12:14 a.m.

A man accused of killing two people during a shooting spree in 2005 is set to be evaluated by a local psychiatrist, and depending on the outcome of that evaluation, he could be ruled competent to stand trial, according to officials.

Eldrick D. Simon, 29, has been housed in a state hospital since 2005 after he was declared incompetent to stand trial for his role in the shootings at Candlelight Estates Mobile Home Park on July 14, 2005. Robert Thomas, 48, and Donald Mitchell, 39, who were Simon's neighbors, were killed in the incident, and another three people were injured.

The hospital has alerted officials that they believe Simon now may be competent to stand trial. During a court hearing Wednesday, Chief Assistant Public Defender John Kearns asked Circuit Judge Martha Lott to allow his office to have Simon evaluated by a local psychiatrist, and another hearing was set in three weeks to discuss the results of that evaluation.

Simon could face the death penalty if convicted during a trial.

No bill: Officers said an Alachua County man who owned cows that remained on the loose near Archer Road for weeks will not be billed for the time they spent trying to catch the animals.

A handful of cows escaped from a pasture in December. Most were caught, but two considered wild ultimately were shot and killed last week by officers because of concerns about the danger to motorists after the animals wandered onto roadways.

Both the Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the Gainesville Police Department reported they wouldn't ask the cows' owner, Eugene Rowland, to pay for the time officers spent trying to corral the animals. "It's just a service law enforcement provides," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Keith Faulk.

The answer probably would have been different if officers determined a crime had been involved. But Gainesville Police Lt. Keith Kameg and Faulk noted Rowland hired people to try and catch the cows and also went out himself.

"He was trying to help," Kameg said. "It sounds easy to catch a cow, but when you have to, it's not as easy as you think."

Family's thanks: A lawsuit may be in the works. But the family of the Tallahassee man fatally wounded in a Gainesville parking garage last year also took time to thank people who had helped them after the shooting.

The family of Andrew Arosemena issued a statement this week when an attorney representing them announced that notices of the intent to begin litigation had been sent to the Gainesville Police Department, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the city of Gainesville, Alachua County and the state Department of Financial Services.

Arosemena's relatives did not comment on the pending litigation but thanked "all of the citizens of Tallahassee, Gainesville and everyone who donated and helped them through such a horrible time," according to the statement.

A fund had been set up to assist the family after Arosemena's death, and money from it was used by relatives to take his ashes to Panama, where they were placed with his father's ashes, said Danielle Joyner Kelley, an attorney for the family.

Two men are being held in Alachua County in connection with the shooting Nov. 25 at the Southwest Downtown Parking Garage. Okpara Nelson, 22, is accused of first-degree murder. Prosecutors have not decided if they will seek the death penalty in the case.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top