A “preliminary hearing” for Michael Morrell, 27, of Athens, who authorities have charged with stabbing to death a 47-year-old Limestone County man on his patio in January, didn’t happen again Tuesday.

Morrell’s attorney, Dan Totten, who has asked for several continuances, said Tuesday that he never expected to present his client for a preliminary hearing, although the case has been included on the District Court docket at least three times.

Attorneys do not need a hearing to determine the state’s evidence, he said.

“We have what’s called an ‘open-file’ policy in Limestone County,” said Totten. “This policy was instituted by (former district attorney) Jimmy Fry. The district attorney’s files are open and the defense attorney has access to everything in there.”

Totten says he hasn’t presented a case for preliminary hearing “since 1981.” Totten said the reason for a preliminary hearing is to secure a defendant’s release on bond if he or she hasn’t been able to get bond for any other reason.

However, he said that would not apply to Morrell, because he is charged with capital murder, which isn’t a bondable offense. He also said that the district attorney’s file contains everything he would have sought in a discovery motion, so that fact further makes needless a preliminary hearing.

Morrell is charged with capital murder in the Jan. 14 stabbing death of Jackie Ray Hall, outside of Hall’s Tillman Mill Road home. Morrell was also charged with burglary.

Hall’s wife found her husband dead in a pool of blood after Hall went outside their home to investigate why dogs were barking, said Sheriff Mike Blakely at the time.

Morrell fled and was discovered soon after at the home of his parents, also on Tillman Mill Road. He had a bloody knife in his possession, Blakely said.

“The case will be presented to the grand jury,” said Totten. “I don’t know if it’s being presented this week while the grand jury is in session because that’s all in secret. If he is indicted, it will probably be reported out by the end of next week and about a month after that there would be an arraignment.”

Totten said that, meanwhile, amidst all the hearings that never were, he has submitted a motion for a mental evaluation on Morrell.

“When Taylor Hardin gets a motion they send to the attorneys and arresting agency questionnaires,” said Totten. “We’ve got to respond to that.”

Totten said if Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility, a state psychiatric hospital in Tuscaloosa, accepts Morrell for an evaluation, he will be transported there and spend from two weeks to 30 days.

“The doctors will then render an opinion on two things: first, on whether Mr. Morrell was competent at the time of the crime or suffering from mental disease or defect, and second, whether he is competent to assist his lawyer with his case,” said Totten.

Totten said waiting on the results of Morrell’s mental evaluation could delay his trial indefinitely, if Morrell is indicted.

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