The older of two Pine Bluff teens accused of kidnapping and killing a Wooster woman who was shopping at the Conway Commons has been found fit for trial.
Tacori D. Mackrell is charged with murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and theft of property following 71-year-old Elvia Fragstein's brutal strangulation death.
The 19-year-old is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 30. The nearly-one-month-long death trial is set to begin Sept. 30.
Defense attorney Bill James began questioning Melissa Dannacher, a clinical psychologist and forensic evaluator at the Arkansas State Hospital, shortly after 9:40 a.m. Tuesday in an attempt to have his client found unfit for trial. However, before 20th Judicial District Prosecutor Carol Crews began cross examining Dannacher, James withdrew the request put before the court.
While on the stand, Dannacher said she believed Mackrell was fit to proceed with trial and capable of aiding his attorneys in his defense "when he was motivated" to do so.
The Pine Bluff teen showcased narcissistic traits, demanding that his attorney negotiate with prosecutors and get him "a 20-year" deal, she said.
It was not uncommon that Mackrell featured conduct disorder characteristics, given that his mother died of cancer in 2017 and his father died when Mackrell was 15 years old. The teen's mother was a drug dealer and frequently used cocaine while Mackrell was growing up. His father was a heavy drinker.
"He showed to have the capacity to do right, but chose not to," she said.
Mackrell has a history of violence. Past records show he fought at school multiple times and previously was sentenced to serve about nine months in the Division of Youth Services. While behind bars in the juvenile correctional facility, he continued to get in trouble and sanctioned for his actions. Dannacher said that even though he was sentenced in 2015 to serve around nine months, he was not released until 2017.
Other factors that could contribute to Mackrell's tendency to resort to violence included the fact that he said he witnessed another man getting shot in the face. While there is no proof to support this claim, Dennacher said she did not doubt his statement.
James argued that his staff has had difficulty getting Mackrell to cooperate with his staff. Dennacher said this was likely due to his "lack of empathy" and also entitled attitude "to get what he wants." If motivated, the 19-year-old is more than willing to help attorneys by providing information about his case.
Crews asked if Dennacher to clarify if Mackrell refused to speak with his attorneys because he was incompetent or because he merely did not want to, pointing out that the examiner's report stated the 19-year-old disclosed he "didn't want to talk to Bobby because he brought my faith down."
Bobby Digby is an attorney who works for the James Law Firm.
Dennacher said she believed Mackrell did not want to talk to his attorneys because he was not receiving the answers he wanted to hear regarding the status of his case and his ability to receive a plea deal.
Attorney on both sides of the case are scheduled to reconvene before Circuit Judge Troy B. Baswell on July 15 for a motion hearing.
The motion hearing was scheduled Tuesday morning shortly after James withdrew his request to have Braswell reconsider the State Hospital's finding that his client was fit to proceed.
The matter is set to go to trial Sept. 30 through Oct. 25.
The Log Cabin will soon follow up with details regarding current outstanding motions left for review prior to the death trial.
Robert Smith III, who is Mackrell's cousin, is also charged in the Fragstein case. The now-17-year-old was 16 years old when he and Mackrell allegedly killed the Wooster woman.
Despite his young age, he is currently charged as an adult.