Sanity hearing requested

Suspect in officer’s death exhibits ‘bizarre’ behavior

An attorney for the Charenton man accused of killing a police officer and another man last month said he would seek to have his client examined by a two-doctor sanity commission.

Public defender Craig Colwart said Tuesday that Wilbert Thibodeaux “exhibited bizarre behavior” before and after the Jan. 26 shootings that also wounded two St. Mary Parish deputies.

Colwart said he and other investigators are conducting interviews to get a picture of Thibodeaux’s life in the weeks leading to late January.

So far, Colwart said, investigators learned that Thibodeaux had been arrested and held in Port Arthur, Texas, in November, and that an investigator with the Public Defender’s Office tried to talk to Thibodeaux last week.

“He (Thibodeaux) was exhibiting bizarre behavior to my investigator,” Colwart said. “He exhibited similar bizarre behavior at his first appearance.”

Thibodeaux made his first court appearance Jan. 28 via a video that linked Iberia Parish jail to a district judge’s courtroom in St. Mary Parish, Colwart said.

On Tuesday, Thibodeaux, 48, was transferred to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Colwart said.

Colwart said he plans to file papers to have the sanity commission review conducted near Angola.

Thibodeaux is being held on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of arson.

Investigators have said they believe Thibodeaux shot Eddie Lyons, 78, and burned down the elderly man’s home.

Sgt. Rick Riggenbach, a 52-year-old Chitimacha Tribal police officer, was shot and killed as he responded to calls about a man walking down Flat Iron Road with a shotgun.

Thibodeaux also is suspected of shooting and wounding two responding St. Mary Parish deputies.

Colwart said he would file papers within 10 days requesting a psychological review of Thibodeaux.

A judge at a sanity hearing could determine whether Thibodeaux is mentally competent to aid in his defense at trial, Colwart said.

“If a court rules that he’s incompetent, everything has to stop in the criminal proceedings until he’s achieved competence,” Colwart said.

Doctors also could try to determine whether Thibodeaux was unable to comprehend what he was doing on Jan. 26, Colwart said.

“Was he suffering from a mental defect where he couldn’t tell right from wrong?” Colwart said.

Those working on Thibodeaux’s defense are interviewing his friends and acquaintances, “trying to get as much information as we can so that the judge will have as much information as possible,” Colwart said.

Following the killings, acquaintances and friends of Thibodeaux’s said he had a history of mental problems, but that until recently he had not had run-ins with police.

Thibodeaux was arrested by Riggenbach for disturbing the peace days before the shootings, records show.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers attended Riggenbach’s funeral in Franklin and his burial in Morgan City on Thursday.

Riggenbach had been a Chitimacha police officer for the past four years, and a deputy with the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office for more than a decade.