By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

CORUNNA, Michigan, October 29, 2009 ( – Harlan James Drake, who is accused of murdering pro-life activist Jim Pouillon in September, was deemed competent to stand trial for the killing by 66th District Court Judge Terrance P. Dignan on Tuesday.

Earlier this month Judge Dignan ruled that Drake was incompetent to stand trial, after an evaluation by the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti, and ordered treatment to render him competent.

Drake's lawyer said the order was partially based on Drake's attempted suicide on the day following his arrest. On September 12, Drake gashed his arm using glass from a television he smashed in his cell. He was treated at Memorial Healthcare following the incident and returned to jail.

Drake was taken into custody on September 11, a few hours after the fatal shooting of Pouillon, 63, and a local gravel pit owner, Mike Fuoss. Police say Drake admitted that he shot Pouillon because his pro-life witness in front of local schools annoyed him. In his frequent witness around the small town of Owosso, Pouillon routinely carried a sign with an image of an aborted baby on one side, and a living child and the word “life” on the other.

Drake's lawyer, Robert Ashley, filed a notice of insanity defense following Judge Dignan's ruling on Tuesday. An order for new psychiatric examinations of the accused is expected at another hearing scheduled for next week.

Shiawassee County Prosecutor Randy Colbry told media that the question of Drake's mental health relative to criminal responsibility will be determined by the follow-up examinations.

“This isn't really a whodunnit,” he said after the hearing. “It's an issue of state of mind – how this state of mind is going to be determined. In my opinion, all the experts should have all the information that is available out there to make their determination.”

See previous LSN coverage:

Judge Deems Pouillon Murder Suspect Incompetent to Stand Trial

“Jim the Sign Guy”: Slain Pro-Lifer, Father of Two, Remembered by Friends as Cheerful, Peaceful Activist


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