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Madison Heights man charged with murdering father found competent for trial
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Madison Heights man charged with murdering father found competent for trial

AMHERST — A man accused of murdering his father in October 2019 was found competent to stand trial Tuesday and is scheduled to face his charges in September.

Chris Hamilton Austin, 49, of Madison Heights, is facing charges of first-degree murder and using a firearm in a felony from the Oct. 1 shooting.

That afternoon, deputies responded to the house of 83-year-old John Bell Austin on Riverview Road to find him dead with a gunshot wound, law enforcement has said. Chris Austin, his son, was arrested at the scene and his attorneys have claimed he acted in self-defense.

On Tuesday, Mark Arthur, one of Chris Austin’s two attorneys, withdrew motions regarding his client’s sanity and ability to stand trial in Amherst Circuit Court, following a discussion with prosecutors and Judge Michael Garrett in closed chambers.

Austin has undergone several mental health evaluations since his arrest. Garrett found evaluation reports supported the conclusion Austin is competent to stand trial, meaning he can understand the proceedings against him and help his attorney build a defense.

Though Austin had difficulty forming verbal responses Tuesday, he nodded in agreement to withdrawing the motions and pleaded not guilty to his charges.

Austin is scheduled for a trial before a judge Sept. 29.

— Rachel Mahoney

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