Santa Fe gunman remains incompetent to stand trial, Galveston County DA’s office says

FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2019 file photo, Dimitrios Pagourtzis is escorted by Galveston County Sheriff's Office deputies into a courtroom at the Galveston County Courthouse in Galveston, Texas. Nick Poehl, one of Pagourtzis attorneys, says Pagourtzis, charged in a mass shooting at a Texas high school last year, has been declared incompetent to stand trial by three experts. Poehl said Monday, Nov. 4 a formal court order declaring him incompetent was expected later this week. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP, File) (Jennifer Reynolds)

SANTA FE, Texas – Officials with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office tell KPRC 2 Investigates Dimitrios Pagourtzis remains incompetent to stand trial.

The judge presiding over the case will sign an order keeping Pagourtzis hospitalized for another period of up to 12 months.

“The treating physicians at the North Texas State Hospital have reported that Santa Fe High School shooting defendant Dimitrios Pagourtzis has not yet been restored to competency to stand trial. They have requested that he be recommitted to their facility for up to 12 months so that they can continue their efforts to restore him to competency. This is extremely disappointing news, especially as we near the five-year anniversary of these tragic murders. Nevertheless, we remain committed to seeing this case tried and seeing that justice is done,” wrote Galveston County District Attorney, Jack Roady.

Families of victims received an email Wednesday morning from the District Attorney’s Office explaining Pagourtzis’s mental health status.

“The Court has received a report from North Texas State Hospital on the defendant. The State Hospital reports that he is still incompetent and is still undergoing court-ordered treatment in order to restore him to competency to stand trial. As with their previous determinations, this finding is supported by two physicians on staff with the hospital,” read an email shared with KPRC 2 by a family member. “The physicians there have again asked the Judge to commit the defendant for up to an additional 12 months there, with the order directing that the hospital continue its efforts to restore him to competency. The Judge intends to sign an order re-committing the defendant to the maximum security unit at North Texas State Hospital for up to an additional 12 months. Also, Judge John Ellisor retired as of December 31, 2022. Judge Jeth Jones is now the judge in the 122nd District Court, and Judge Jones should be presiding over our case from here on out.”

Pagourtzis was first ruled incompetent in 2019, 18 months after he was charged with murdering eight students, two educators and wounding several others, including a Santa Fe ISD police officer, during his rampage at Santa Fe High school.

This is the fifth time the court has extended Pagourtzis’s commitment to a mental health hospital.

“We are not surprised, but nevertheless, disappointed that our client remains incompetent to stand trial. It is difficult to see a path forward when the prospects for his restoration steadily diminish the longer he remains incompetent. Our prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy and we continue to hope for an eventual resolution to this matter,” wrote Nick Poehl, Pagourtzis’ defense attorney.

Until his competency is restored, Pagourtzis cannot stand trial.

The mother of Chris Stone, Rosie Stone, sent KPRC the following statement:

“Its time we start moving forward in releasing the information regarding May 18, 2018. Keep him as long as they want, but living without any justice is inhumane to us families. There are others at fault for what happened. I know he says it’s for the integrity of the trial... I just have a hard time believing that when the Medical Examiner didn’t keep that same energy of keeping the integrity of the trial by giving out our kids’ information. It just pains me to my core that it took less than four minutes to take 10 lives and it has taken YEARS to get justice. Help me understand that... help me. Yes, our family is devastated, but sad to say we weren’t surprised. That’s what makes this injustice even more disgusting... we weren’t even surprised by anything anymore. We know the letdown is coming... its been four years nine months and it’s to be continued.”

Rhonda Hart, the mother of Kimberly Vaughan, sent a Tweet reading:

“It must be nice to marinate in your own pathetic body after you killed your classmates. Five years afterward, three years of (mental health) treatment, and you’re still not well enough? Whatever.”

Scot Rice’s wife, Flo, was critically wounded during the mass shooting. Rice said word of Pagourtzis remaining incompetent to stand trial is like “salt in the wound.”

“It’s really hard to blame anyone except the shooter for all this and we all feel like we are being played, that the defense has planned this out the whole time so that he won’t ever stand trial,” Rice said. “Nobody can imagine what these five years have been like, it’s just like everyday is Groundhog Day and it just happened yesterday for us and every time something like this happens, we go back in time to then.”


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About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”