Evaluation ordered for D-B shooting threat suspect

Rain Smith • Apr 20, 2018 at 3:34 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — To avoid the possibility of being booked into jail again, a 19-year-old who allegedly threatened to “shoot up” Dobyns-Bennet High School must now undergo a mental evaluation.

On Friday morning, an order setting bond conditions for Mark S. Puckett was filed in Sullivan County Criminal Court. As agreed to by the district attorney’s office, Puckett and his defense attorney, Puckett will “submit to a mental examination to determine his competency to stand trial as well as mental capacity at the time of the commission of said offenses.”

Puckett, a 2017 D-B graduate, was arrested by Kingsport police on March 27, then jailed on a Class C felony charge of false reporting and harassment. That same day, he allegedly sent a series of disturbing texts to his ex-girlfriend.

According to Kingsport Police Department Public Information Officer Tom Patton, messages sent by Puckett included claims that he was a “monster,” that he had tortured animals and that he wanted to kill his parents. The KPD says that in his text threatening to “shoot up” a class at D-B, Puckett also acknowledged the potential repercussions.

A press release from the KPD noted that before Puckett’s arraignment the following morning, police requested the judge to order a mental evaluation prior to Puckett’s release. No evaluation was conducted. Bond was set $50,000 and then posted by Puckett’s parents.

In a later Times News letter to the editor, General Sessions Judge Ray Conkin said that a request for a mental evaluation could made by the district attorney, a defendant’s counsel or by the court. And if the court orders an evaluation, it can only be on an outpatient basis.

Wrote Conkin: “Except in capital murder cases, no court is authorized to hold an accused in jail without bond pending an examination or otherwise. The Constitution of the United States and the laws of the State of Tennessee guarantee every citizen the right to a reasonable bond pending trial.”

Friday’s court order on bond conditions followed a motion of the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office. Along with the mental evaluation, Puckett is required to participate in any treatment that is recommended by a mental health professional and to have no contact with his ex-girlfriend or her family.

A capias for his arrest could also be issued if he visits the property of any public school or possesses a firearm.

Puckett has waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Evidence in his case will be presented to a grand jury for confirmation, dismissal or amendment of charges.

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