Following evaluation, David Jungerman found not competent ahead of sentencing

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 3:43 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A judge ruled Friday that David Jungerman, who was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing an attorney in 2017, is not competent to move forward with sentencing.

Jungerman, 85, will be committed to the Missouri Department of Mental Health unless or until he regains competence. Jungerman had not yet been sentenced following a jury’s guilty verdict last year.

Last November, under the supervision of the director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, the court ordered that Jungerman undergo a mental competency evaluation. A competency report was submitted to the court on Jan. 6.

On Friday, Jungerman’s defense attorneys called Certified Forensic Examiner Kathleen Smith and Clinical Forensic Psychologist Lisa Witcher to the stand. Smith and Witcher said that, after evaluating Jungerman, they found he was not competent. Jungerman’s defense has argued Jungerman has an unspecified neurocognitive disorder.

Prosecutors did not call anyone to testify Friday. They previously argued during trial that Jungerman was competent and presented evidence from their own expert, who evaluated Jungerman. Prosecutors raised questions about Jungerman feigning competency issues and a lack of medical evidence of a severe, sudden/acute condition.

Last September, a jury found Jungerman guilty of killing Tom Pickert outside of his family’s home on Oct. 25, 2017. Pickert had just returned from walking his two young sons to school when he was shot. Pickert had helped a man, who was homeless at the time, win a $5.75 million civil judgement against Jungerman.

During the first-degree murder trial last year, jurors heard a heard a recording of Jungerman in his own words. Prosecutors said Jungerman recorded himself talking with his longtime farmhand about Pickert’s murder.

“Hey, you know, people… People, uh, know that I murdered that son of a [expletive],” jurors heard Jungerman say on the recording. “The thing that sort of bothers me about me is, when I think about it, I grin. [Laughing.] That mother[expletive] has caused me a lot of problems.”

Jungerman’s defense team said they are awaiting word on when Jungerman could be moved from the Jackson County Detention Center to a Missouri Department of Mental Health facility, which will depend on bed availability.

“As long as he remains incompetent, he will remain in custody of the Department of Mental Health,” Jungerman’s Defense Attorney Dan Ross said Friday. “If that changes, he may be brought back for further court proceedings.”

A spokesperson for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said Jungerman’s competency will be evaluated again in six months.