Former KCSO chief’s mental health debated as he awaits trial

David Henderson was a veteran Sheriff’s Office investigator and administrator who has been charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit program fraud.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A federal magistrate wants to see in writing one expert’s evaluation and consider the qualifications of another as a retired narcotics investigator presses his case that he’s not competent to stand trial on a charge that stems from his time with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

US Magistrate Judge Jill E. McCook has set a court hearing for Tuesday in Knoxville for David Henderson, a KCSO veteran who is charged with conspiracy to commit program fraud.

Rob Kurtz, Henderson’s attorney, argues his client is in declining mental and physical health and is unable to stand trial. It’s up to McCook ultimately to decide whether Henderson is up to facing prosecution.

Kurtz last month told the court that Dr. Malcolm Spica, a neuropsychologist, has evaluated Henderson twice — in January 2022 and in September. It’s Spica’s opinion that Henderson isn’t competent to be prosecuted.

The government wants to see further proof of Henderson’s mental condition. McCook wants to see a formal report from Spica.

On McCook’s order, Henderson will face a second mental evaluation, perhaps by Dr. Stephen A. Montgomery, an expert offered up by the government.

Montgomery would review Spica’s report on Henderson or could conduct an independent review of him, court records state.

McCook is giving Spica 30 days to prepare a report of his assessment of Henderson. With Tuesday’s hearing, the court also wants to know how long it would take Montgomery to look over Spica’s report or do his own evaluation.

Montgomery is an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University’s Department of Psychiatry. He also specializes in forensic psychiatry, according to Vanderbilt.

Spica is Knoxville-based. He conducts neuropsychological evaluations, and has assisted in civil and criminal proceedings, according to a summary of his professional background.

A federal grand jury indicted Henderson in February. He was rolled into court in a wheelchair for his first appearance that month before McCook.

Henderson formerly oversaw the Sheriff’s Office’s narcotics division. He ran it and used money available to the department to dispense favors and take care of friends and personal whims, court records allege.

An FBI investigation raised questions about how he used seized drug fund money and a drug expense card.

The indictment alleges other unnamed people joined him in the conspiracy, and that the activity went on for some seven years, from 2011 until 2018, while Henderson oversaw the sheriff’s narcotics unit.


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