LEWISVILLE, AR (KSLA) - The man accused of causing the death of a Lafayette County chief deputy in March was in court Friday for a pretrial hearing to determine if he's competent enough to stand trial.
Michael Ackart, 30, of Tulsa, Okla. is being charged with second-degree murder in the death of Chief Deputy Pete Richardson. Richardson was taking Ackhart to a homeless shelter in Texarkana when Ackhart allegedly grabbed the steering wheel, causing the car to crash into an 18-wheeler. Richardson died at the scene.
Circuit judge Kirk Johnson on Friday ordered Ackart to a state hospital for a mental evaluation.
"I am very disappointed," Richardson's wife, Melanie Richardson, said after court Friday. "I'm disappointed that it has taken this long for justice for my husband."
"I understand wanting to attack someone in the courtroom now," Richardson's niece, Carrie Davis, said. I never got it before, but I get it now."
This was Davis' first time seeing Ackart.
"It is still hard on all of us. Pete was a good guy," she said.
Support continues to pour in for the Richardson family. Melanie Richardson was given state and federal awards for her late husband, including the American Police Association Medal of Honor. A Sarepta, La. graphic design company is making t-shirts to honor the chief deputy.
"I have a lot of support, but it is not the same without him and it never will be," Melanie Richardson said.
Ackart is slated to be transferred to the hospital July 17. His trial date has not yet been set and is pending the outcome of the mental evaluation.