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New Orleans Cop Killing Suspect May Never Stand Trial

September 30, 2010  | 

The mentally ill man accused of killing New Orleans police officer Nicola Cotton in January 2008 with her own gun after she tried to question him cannot stand trial because he is "irrestorably incompetent," a judge has ruled.

Bernel P. Johnson, 47, on Sept. 2 was ordered into the custody of the state Department of Health and Hospitals under a civil commitment and will live at the forensic hospital in Jackson, La., indefinitely, his lawyer said.

"He can't get out," said defense attorney Jeffrey Smith, who was appointed to represent Johnson. "That doesn't mean that in five to six years or 10 years he can't come right back to court. It doesn't preclude him from being tried down the road."

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