KALAMAZOO (WWJ/AP) – A 50-year-old man charged with striking and killing five bicyclists with his pickup truck in southwestern Michigan has been found competent to stand trial.
A hearing was held Wednesday in Kalamazoo County District Court for Charles Pickett Jr. of Battle Creek. He was evaluated by the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry at the request of his attorney.
Pickett is charged with five counts of second-degree murder, four counts of reckless driving causing impairment and driving while intoxicated causing death.
Police have reported that Pickett had taken pain pills and muscle relaxers less than two hours before the June 7 crash. Another four bicyclists were injured when he struck them from behind on a rural, two-lane road in Cooper Township, south of Grand Rapids.
Police said they had received complaints about a pickup being driven erratically and were searching for it minutes before the crash.
The bicyclists killed were Debra Ann Bradley, 53; Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, 42; Suzanne Joan Sippel, 56, all of Augusta; and Fred Anton “Tony” Nelson, 73, and Lorenz John “Larry” Paulik, 74, both of Kalamazoo.
The group was about five miles into a planned 30-mile ride when they were struck. Pickett fled but was caught by police shortly afterward.
Pickett remains held without bond. He is due back in court on Sept. 21 for a preliminary examination.
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