Rupert O'Neil Harty: Taxi cab driver has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Court-appointed psychologists have determined that Rupert Harty, the taxi cab driver accused of shooting and killing a bicyclist and shooting several others is not mentally competent to stand trial, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Harty, 31, was charged with murder in connection with death of Amaria Grant on South Olive Avenue.

He was also charged in connection with shooting of a bicyclist on Broadway.

Prosecutors have said he also shot at two men in a car near A.G. Holley State Hospital.

The shootings, which began in December, spanned several weeks and gripped several neighborhoods with fear.

The standard to determine whether someone is mentally incompetent to stand trial is "pretty low," Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said.

"It's whether the defendant can understand the proceedings and can assist in his own defense. Just because he is incompetent now doesn't mean that he won't be restored to competency six months from now," he said.

Aronberg said many defendants are restored to competency and eventually stand trial.

Grant, the bicyclist who was shot and killed several days before Christmas, worked as a nanny for the Farino family.

"We're not happy that it's not going faster but we're also happy that they're doing what they think is the right thing," said Ken Farino, who hired Grant in 2004. "He had the ability to actually pick out victims so he had the ability to make those decisions. I don't think anyone wants this guy on the streets."

WPTV NewsChannel 5 legal analyst Michelle Suskauer said Harty would be re-evaluated regularly.

"In this case, there was concurrence. [Doctors] agreed. That's why the court then took the next step to delay the proceedings," she said. "Everything is sort of on hold so that the defendant could potentially regain competency after mental health treatment, after medication or a combination of that."

Harty is being treated at a state hospital in North Florida.

His next hearing is scheduled for September 13th.

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