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According to authorities and his former attorney the man charged with murder in the ambush of a suburban Houston sheriff’s deputy had a history of mental illness and was once declared mentally incompetent.  30 year old Shannon J. Miles was being held without bond after an initial court hearing Monday.

Prosecutors are accusing him of opening fire from behind on Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth on Friday night in what the sheriff called a “cold-blooded assassination.”  Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in court that Goforth was shot 15 times.

Anderson said investigators were still trying to figure out a motive. It’s unknown whether it might be connected to tensions around the country between law enforcement and civilians.

According to Sheriff Ron Hickman the attack was “clearly unprovoked,” and authorities believe the 47-year-old deputy was targeted because he was in uniform. There is no evidence Goforth knew Miles.

The Associated Press is reporting that Anthony Osso, one of Miles’ two court-appointed attorneys, claims his client intends to plead not guilty. Miles’ criminal history reaches back to 2005 and includes an arrest in Austin in 2012 that resulted in Miles being sent to a state mental hospital for several months.

Prosecutor Joe Frederick said the Travis County District Attorney’s Office charged Miles with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2012 after he got into a fight at a homeless shelter over a remote control. Miles was found to be mentally incompetent in October 2012 and was sent to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, Texas.

Frederick said Miles was ultimately declared mentally competent in February 2013, but the charge was dropped after the victim could not be located.  According to Jon Evans, Miles’ attorney in the Austin case, medical privacy laws prevent him from offering any details about Miles’ mental illness history.

However he was told by Miles’ mother that her son had a lifelong history of mental illness.  Miles’ record includes three convictions for resisting or evading arrest, as well as convictions for disorderly conduct with a firearm, criminal mischief and giving false information to police.

Records also show he was sentenced to several short stints in jail, anywhere from six to 10 days.  Miles attended Prairie View A&M University from fall 2003 to spring 2004 and he also attended the University of Houston for a time.

Goforth’s funeral is scheduled for Friday.


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