Original article no longer available
The Commercial Appeal
December 19, 1997
Schizophrenic and not competent to stand trial, according to psychiatric reports filed Thursday. Christopher M. Flake, 25, of Germantown complains of hearing voices telling him to hurt others and telling about the World Trade Center bombing in New York, doctors from the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute said. Flake, they said, “would likely assault others if given the chance.”
Staff psychiatrists and psychologists also said an insanity defense could be supported regarding his mental condition at the time of the shootings. Insanity can be a defense if the person could not appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or could not conform that conduct to requirements of the law. No action was taken on Flake’s case, but a full hearing on the report was set for next month in Criminal Court after which Judge Bernie Weinman will determine whether Flake is competent to stand trial.
First-degree murder carries sentences of life in prison, life without parole or the death penalty. Mental evaluations for criminal defendants are common procedures, especially in murder cases, but few come back with such findings of mental incompetence. The MTMHI staff reported that Flake is not capable of assisting in his defense in court and that he does not understand the charges against him. They recommended that he needs further psychiatric treatment at a secure facility such as MTMHI in Nashville where he has been since Nov. 17.
Flake has a history of alcohol abuse and had been taking the anti-depressant Prozac when authorities said he went on a weekend shooting spree this spring against a former employer and two men who had counseled him. On the evening of April 5, Michael Fultz, 31, was shot to death in the garage of his home in the 2400 block of Bassfield near Bartlett. Flake once worked part-time for Fultz, a tennis court contractor. About 30 minutes later, Fred Bizot, 70, was gunned down while standing outside an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at Holy Apostles Episcopal Church. Flake, who has admitted the shooting, had attended meetings at the church in previous weeks. The following night, counselor Turner Carpenter, 67, was wounded in his office at Central Church at 6655 Winchester when a man identified as Flake opened fire on him. Flake had been to Carpenter for counseling in the past.
Doctors at MTMHI say Flake, who was studying criminal justice at the University of Memphis, “admits to auditory and visual hallucinations, (and) persecutory delusional thinking . . . Needs complete stabilization with medications and therapy to avoid danger to himself and to others.” They said if involuntary treatment is not continued, Flake’s mental illness is likely to deteriorate rapidly. To reach reporter Lawrence Buser, call 529-2385 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org