NewsLocal NewsCharlotte County


Driver accused of killing Charlotte Co. deputy must go through competency evaluation

Judge approved the motion, requesting a mental health evaluation for Cassandra Smith
Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-09 19:24:45-05

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — A Charlotte County judge approved a mental health evaluation motion for the woman accused of hitting and killing a Charlotte County deputy on I-75 in November.
Cassandra Smith is facing multiple charges, including vehicular homicide. Deputies say while driving drunk, she hit and killed Deputy Christopher Taylor, who had only been on the force less than a year.

Smith's attorneys claim she needs the competency evaluation because of her courtroom behavior and her lack of understanding of the charges among other reasons. Her attorney said on Thursday he cannot communicate with Smith as her physical and mental states are deteriorating.

Rich Taylor, Christopher's grandfather, says the evaluation is a way for her to potentially get out of the charges.

"To me, it's just a shortcut of trying to get her off because it's a cut, clear case and they're just trying to get her off," he explained.

The grandfather along with other family members attended Thursday's hearing. Rich says he plans to be there for every single one to get justice for his grandson.

Smith did not appear in court, and attorneys say she's on a "trip status." A Charlotte County deputy at the jail says this could mean a variety of things, like being seen by a doctor or a transfer.

However, the deputy did confirm she is still in the County's custody.

The next step at this point is the evaluation, where doctors will determine if Smith is competent to stand trial.

Her next court date is April 20.