The Justice Files: Accused killer ruled competent to face charges

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Brittany Session has been waiting five-years for this moment.

Monday, a district court judge in Salt Lake announced that accused killer Alexander Tran is competent to stand trial.

In September 2015, homeowner Tran allegedly shot and killed three people, including a two-month-old.

Heike Poike was a tenant at the home. She was the caretaker for her grand-daughter, Lyrik Poike. It was a day Poike’s daughter will never forget.

“My cousin actually called me and said ‘did you see that house where there were murders?’ and I said ‘no,'” recalled Brittany Sessions. “She said ‘that was your mom’s house’ and I said ‘what are you talking about. what’s going on?’ My cousin said she was murdered. I just lost it. She got killed on my son’s birthday, so that’s a hard day.”

Also killed was Dakota Smith. His father said Dakota was a tenant in home and was sleeping on the couch when he was allegedly shot by Tran.

But Tran has been at the Utah state hospital for the past five years. This, after the court, found him incompetent to stand trial.”

“We were mad (and) sad that we couldn’t get any closure.” Sessions said.

But last month, doctors for the state submitted their report to the court. They concluded that Tran’s health has been restored.

Monday in a virtual court hearing, prosecutors endorsed the findings.

“We support Dr. (Michael) Brook’s evaluation opinion,” said Chou Chou Collins with the Salt Lake district attorney’s office. “So we ask court to find defendant competent to proceed at this point.”

Tran was also present. His attorney said their own doctors also found him competent.

“It appears that Mr. Tran is doing well,” said Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills and based on the information provided in that evaluation, we find that Mr. Tran is now competent to proceed.”

From a prosecutor’s standpoint, the findings mean Tran will get a fair trial and has been afforded all his legal rights.

“It’s the hallmark of our justice that we hold people accountable for their actions that they’re aware of, not actions that they’re not aware of” said Sim Gill, Salt Lake district attorney.

But for Sessions, the delay has been frustrating. She said it’s now time for Tran to face the consequences.

“Finally after five-years, he needs to get what he deserves,” she said.

Tran will now be transported from the state hospital to the Salt Lake County jail. His first court appearance is set for February 8.

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