Competency question delays Cochise County murder trial again


Roger Delane Wilson [Photo courtesy Pima County Sheriff's Office]

A Cochise County man jailed since 2017 awaiting trial for a fatal shooting must wait until January to argue that the murder was self-defense, after his seventh court-appointed defense attorney renewed concerns about the man’s mental competency.

Roger Delane Wilson was arrested June 22, 2017 after firing one shotgun shell into the chest of Jose Daniel Arvizu outside the home of Wilson’s mother near Sierra Vista.  Last month attorney Stephen West advised Presiding Judge James Conlogue that Wilson’s mental state was preventing effective interaction with his client.

Wilson, 51, contends he used deadly force to protect himself from an attack initiated by Arvizu, 22. Arizona’s self-defense law allows for the use of deadly physical force if that person is somewhere the person may legally be, and the person is not engaged in an unlawful act.

Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntrye decided to have a jury determine whether Wilson’s actions were justified. But getting the case in front of a Cochise County Superior Court jury has been fraught with multiple delays, many brought on by Wilson himself.

In April 2018, he admitted punching his fourth attorney in the face in hopes that the attorney would drop out of the case. Later, Wilson used jail phones to seek someone to attack attorney number six.

Those actions contributed to a February 2019 court ruling that placed Wilson in a mental competency restoration program until July. Conlogue later found Wilson was restored to competency and ordered the expected eight-week trial to start Nov. 4.

But last month West advised Conlogue of renewed concerns with his client’s competency.

“Mr. Wilson is unable to assist in his own defense,” West noted. “He is unable to accept that he is wrong about numerous legal issues. He is unable to control his temper.”

The trial was reset to Jan. 27, by which time Wilson will have been in pretrial custody more than 31 months.  The delay will allow for Wilson to undergo a psychiatric examination at the county’s expense.