Spring shooting suspect Ron Haskell’s attorney plans insanity defense


by Andrew Horansky and Larry Seward / KHOU 11 News and KHOU.com staff


Posted on July 11, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 11 at 10:10 PM

HOUSTON — Multiple capital murder suspect Ron Haskell collapsed during a hearing Friday morning as his probable cause was read in a Houston courtroom.

At first, Haskell, 33, appeared wooden as the events of Wednesday were read in court.

But when it got to the point where he allegedly shot a family of seven execution-style at their home in Spring, he fell to his knees.

The first time, officers helped Haskell to his feet. The second time, he was placed in a chair and wheeled away as the case carried on.

He’s accused of fatally shooting six of his ex-wife’s family members in their Spring home earlier this week.

In court, prosecutors said Haskell’s actions were planned and calculated murders. They are seeking a grand jury capital murder indictment.

WATCH: Suspect faints in Houston courtroom

But Haskell’s court-appointed attorney Doug Durham said his client has a mental illness and wasn’t fully aware of what he did.

"I have to pray for him," said Spring resident Goldeen Dixie. "I''m a Christian. I think he's very mentally ill."

Durham said he will be arguing a case for insanity triggered by the trauma of divorce after Haskell allegedly went off his meds.

He added that he has already met with Haskell for 30 minutes. Durham believes his client may not know right from wrong or what is — or isn’t — reality.

“He’s scared. I think he has a limited mental capacity of what’s going on and I think that’s another thing I need to explore in terms of competency,” Durham said.

Durham said Haskell has a history of mental illness and was not taking his meds. That will be the focus of his defense.

"Whether he was psychotic, to distinguish between right and wrong remains to be determined," the attorney said.

But prosecutors aren’t buying it.

“I just think the probable cause shows the determination involved and the effort and the planning,” prosecutor Tammy Thomas said.

Prosecutors alleged that Haskell fainted in court because it finally hit him that “this is real and there are real consequences.”

“Maybe reality is finally setting in. This is not television, this is not fiction. He is facing his consequence,” Thomas said.

Still to be determined is if Haskell could be a candidate for the death penalty. The hearing for that hasn’t been scheduled yet.

"It's not an easy case, but we're going to do our jobs. We're going to do it fairly. We're going to see it through. We owe it to the victims," Thomas said.

For now, deputies wheeled Haskell back to jail where he was given a cocktail of drugs and tests.

Also on Friday, more details were revealed about the events of that deadly day.

Prosecutors said Haskell he did show up at the house twice and forced himself in the second time.

The first time he identified himself as a FedEx worker. The second time he let the household know he said who he really was.

And he wasn’t instantly recognizable because he had grown a beard since the last time he saw them.

Investigators said Haskell shot two adults and their five children that night. One of the kids, a 15-year-old girl, survived the shootings.

She told detectives that her mother was shot first, moments after screaming “no.” The others were shot twice, execution-style.

A brief chase ensued and ended in a cul-de-sac in a quiet Spring neighborhood approximately three miles away from the crime scene.

Neighbors said Haskell was stone faced and not responding to repeated commands from authorities to surrender.

Haskell was boxed in by a SWAT team for hours before finally giving up. During most of the standoff, Haskell was described as “just sitting in his car.”

Investigators believe Haskell was on his way to kill more of his ex’s family before he was stopped.