Jury decides Billie Jean Cuttler not fit to stand trial in nephew's death

Jury decides Billie Jean Cuttler not fit to stand trial in nephew's death
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Billie Jean Cuttler (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Billie Jean Cuttler (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The second day of  the competency trial for Cuttler started with testimony from a psychologist.

Dr. Mary Alice Conroy, the director of clinical training at Sam Houston State University, told the jury that she did believe Billie Jean Cuttler was intellectually disabled but did believe she was competent to stand trial.

Conroy said Cuttler appeared to be spontaneous with her answers and willing to talk and was simple in her explanation.

"She made every effort to cooperate with me," Conroy said.

Conroy said one thing that seemed odd was that Cuttler volunteered statements like, "My family says I act like a 2 year old."

Conroy said she gave a test with two answers choices twice to Cuttler.

Conroy said she got an extremely low score both times. Conroy said the score was lower than what the probability would be if she guessed on all of them.

Conroy said after every answer she would say if she was right or wrong, and Cuttler did not seem to care or get upset which was very odd.

Conroy said Cuttler knew she was charged with capital murder and knew everything about the facts of the murder including the victim and the alleged acts. Conroy also said Cuttler knew the judge and that she thought she should go on probation.

Conroy continued by saying that if she asked Cuttler a direct question, she said no, but if she asked her to talk about the case, she knew what she's talking about.

"Most people that are intellectually disabled and get arrested are competent," Conroy said.

"Despite the fact that they can't do math or read and write, they do know what goes on in court," Conroy said. "It's very simple. It's not insider trading on Wall Street. It is very simple for them."

She is competent to stand trial and she knows what is rationally going on, Conroy said.

The psychologist said Cuttler knows what's going on but could not get on the stand and testify or take rapid cross examination.

Charanza argued with Conroy that she ignored the test scores in Cuttler's school records in her overall score.

Conroy told Charanza that when the evaluation was done, Cuttler asked her, "What would happen if I didn't go to trial?"

Conroy said 99.8 percent of her peers did better on these tests. Conroy said she had to also look at her adaptive function. Conroy continued and told Charanza that when she mentioned her attorney she could not provide a name.

Conroy said she was not talking about Cuttler understanding how serious the crime is but how simple it is to understand the parts of it compared to something complicated.

Conroy then told prosecutor April Perez that her meeting took almost two hours.

Lt. Bret Maisel was the next person who took the stand.

Maisel said while looking on the property for Mason, they started to observe the people on the property.

Maisel said during the search, Bobby Woods and Billie Jean Cuttler were on the property and they were seen cutting up and joking around. Maisel said they got a call from Woods and Cuttler that lead them to them.

"It was on the 17th of August that Woods told us what he and Cuttler did," Maisel said.

Maisel said when they got to Leesville to talk to Cuttler, they pulled up to Arby's and saw her.

"I thought it was strange when we pulled up and saw her that she gave her phone to a family member," Maisel said.

Maisel also said after an interview, Cuttler walked out and told her dad, "I didn't tell them anything."

Maisel said they knew that Cuttler had an academic deficit. Maisel said they were very careful and even called the District Attorney about the issue.

"We crafted our interviews very carefully, so she could understand," Maisel said.

Maisel said they learned early on the Cuttler knew how to use a cell phone and could do things like send texts messages.

"We learned there is a difference between academics and street smarts," Maisel said. "Am I sitting here saying she has an academic deficit? Yes, I am. Am I here to say she has street smarts? Yes, I am."

Maisel said a few days before Cuttler met with Conroy for an evaluation, he came across a phone call in a visitation session between Cuttler and her family.

In the phone call with her family, Cuttler could be heard telling her family that she was going to act stupid.

Ernisha Horace, an inmate at the Angelina County Jail, talked about her relationship with Cuttler.

"She held a regular conversation, "Horace said."[We] talked about TV shows, games, family."

The state then re-visited the video of Maisel's interview of Cuttler. In the video, she said wants to tell the truth about what happened to Mason because he is her nephew, and she loved him.

"I don't know what happened," Cuttler said.

Cuttler said she believed Woods saw Mason last because he was last seen with Mason. Cuttler said when she was in the bathroom she could hear Woods on a four-wheeler.

Maisel asked if Cuttler knew that Woods hit Mason and Cuttler said no.

"Why don't you just tell me what happened?" Maisel said in the video. "Your blood kin is going to be calling your name. Mason deserves the truth."

Cuttler said she just thinks Woods did it.

Maisel asked Cuttler to stick to her story, and she asked what story.

Maisel brought up talking to her on the phone.

"That was you on the phone?" Cuttler said. "That doesn't even sound like you."

Maisel said they talked about that call earlier and Cuttler remembered it was him at that time.

Cuttler then changed her story from earlier where she said they were arguing outside and then said they were inside and that Woods took the trash out when they saw Mason was missing.

"Earlier, you said you took out the trash," Maisel said.

Later, Maisel told Cuttler, "Today is the day you tell me the truth."

The jury went to lunch at 12:09.

After lunch, Maisel said Woods is a different case when coming to intellectual disability. Maisel said it would appear Cuttler's brother was mildly intellectual disabled as well.

The video then showed Maisel leaving and Farmer coming back in at the one-hour mark on the video.

Charanza pointed out that Maisel was with Cuttler for an hour, and then Farmer was with her for three-and-a-half hours.

Tiffany Boykin, an Angelina County correctional officer, then talked about Cuttler's time at the Angelina County Jail.

Boykin has monitored a cell with Cuttler since last October. Boykin said in her time working with Cuttler she understands commands and is polite.

Tiffany Hurb, another Angelina County correctional officer, said that she didn't have a lot of conversations with Cuttler recently, but she said when Cuttler first got put into jail she would talk about Bobby and why he was lying.

Hurb said that she was able to understand the jail staff and other inmates.

The state then rested its case.

In his closing arguments, Charanza reminded the jury that Cuttler has a low score standard.

"In fact, 98 percent of people are better than her," Charanza said.

Charanza pointed out that Conroy stated Cuttler is competent, but in a long-drawn-out trial with face paced questions, she would not be able to understand.

"Billie Jean, based on what we know, is a child in an adult body," Charanza said.

Charanza also pointed out that a fast-food chain owner told the court that Cuttler was not able to be hired or work for him because she could not do simple tasks.

Charanza brought up that testimony on the stand showed there was nothing behind her eyes. He said she is a woman that visits with him in court for a couple of hours, and then later that day, she could not remember his name.

"She keeps looking for justice and justice is to find her not competent," Charanza said.

Perez then faced the jury and said Cuttler does know what is going on.

"We know her mindset going into the evaluation," Perez said. "I am paraphrasing, but she said, 'I'm going to act really, really stupid.'"

Perez said Charanza thinks she is changing her story because she does not get it, but she thinks she is changing her story little by little because she is being investigated.

"They are getting a little more out of her because she realizes that they know a little more than they thought," Perez said.

Perez said Cuttler is self-serving because she is understanding.

"We are told she doesn't get legal issues," Perez said. "She gets arrested on October 2, and we hear her say, 'Do I get a bond?' Then when Farmer gets in there, we hear her say she should get probation, and Woods should get five years. No one fed her those lines."

Perez said the competency laws are on the books not to protect the people that get it like Billie Jean but for the people that don't get it.

"We saw her answers," Perez said. "She was not giving two-word answers. She was constantly thinking. She was consistently asking what they knew."

Perez said she was able to trick Kartye, but not Conroy.

Charanza then rebutted and told the jury that it was possible the Conroy went in with an agenda because of an e-mail the district attorney sent to her.

Charanza concluded with the statement that Cuttler might be able to talk to investigators but is not competent in a legal sense.

The jury got the case at 3:11 p.m.

Back in May, Cuttler's defense team requested that her bail amount be lowered. At the time, White said he would not discuss lowering her bail until after the second mental health evaluation.

Previously, the court said it may consider revoking the statements Cuttler made to the Angelina County Sheriff's Office because of her intellectual disabilities, depending on how she did on the competency evaluation.

Cuttler and Bobby Woods Jr. are both facing capital murder charges for the death of Mason Cuttler. Back in March, April Perez, the prosecutor on the case, said that Cuttler will not be facing the death penalty. If she is found competent to stand trial and is found guilty, she will have to serve life in prison without parole.

According to the arrest affidavit for Woods, ACSO Lt. Brett Maisel and Texas Ranger Steven Rayburn interviewed Woods, who said he took Mason to the pond, pushed him into the water, and watched him as he began to drown. He allegedly turned his back to him, making no attempt to rescue him, despite Mason's cries for help.

The affidavit states Woods said he wanted Mason to die because his girlfriend was pregnant and he wanted to make room in the home for his unborn child.
However, Charanza, told East Texas News she was never pregnant.

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