Murder charges dropped, man committed to mental facility

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) -- A man who was charged in the fatal shooting of a Johnson City attorney and a visiting insurance agent a dozen years ago has been committed to a mental institution.

According to the Johnson City Press, a court ordered Walter Shell confined at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Center in Chattanooga until he becomes competent to stand trial or he dies. The ruling came Monday at the conclusion of a hearing.

Dr. Steven R. Lawhon told Criminal Court Judge Jerry Beck he evaluated Shell, who is 84, and concluded it is unlikely he will ever be able to stand trial. The murder charges were then dropped.

Shell was charged in the 1999 killings of attorney John D. Goodin and Paul "Trey" Keyser at Goodin's law office.

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