Teen Killer May Be Moved to State Prison - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

01/02/07 - Trinity County

Teen Killer May Be Moved to State Prison

by Ramonica R. Jones

Less than two months ago, a Trinity County jury sentenced 19-year-old Tommy Middleton to 70 years in prison for the murder of Dody Peroutka. He shot and killed the 50-year-old Polk County woman last Easter as she was leaving the restroom of a bar.

Since the shooting, Middleton's family has said Middleton would never make it in a state prison. Now, a doctor is agreeing with them. They are expecting Middleton to be moved from a Huntsville prison to the Rusk State Hospital.

Middleton's mom, Nicki Sides, said, "My son needs mental help. He needs psychiatrists and therapists and he needs to be monitored."

After the shooting, Middleton spent time in a psychiatric hospital after being found mentally incompetent to stand trial, but he regained competency in less than two weeks.

A Texas prison spokesperson said all inmates are thoroughly evaluated and diagnosed for mental instability when they arrive at prison, regardless of a jury's opinion of the suspect's mental state.

T.D.C.J. Spokesperson Jason Clark said, "Each inmate that comes in goes through what we call an intake facility, and at that intake facility, we've got people that look extensively at their background, their history, stuff that came up in the trial. What they're trying to do is establish a continuity of care."

Middleton unloaded dozens of rounds from an AK-47 into his neighbor's home in Trinity County on Easter Sunday 2006. He was worried the family would hurt a small pet alligator he'd put in a pond behind their home.

Family members expect Middleton to be sent to the Rusk State Hospital within the next few weeks. If his mental condition improves while he's there, he could be sent back to state prison in Huntsville.

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