UT stabbing suspect Kendrex White indicted for murder, new charges

July 17, 2017
Kendrex White makes his way out of Judge Tamara Needles Courtroom on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The criminal case against University of Texas stabbing suspect Kendrex White is clear to proceed after a Travis County grand jury indicted him Monday on four felony charges, including three new ones, according to top assistant Mindy Montford of the district attorney’s office.

White, 21, is now charged with three counts of aggravated assault for injuring three students when he allegedly went on a stabbing spree on campus on May 1. He also was indicted for murder in the death of 19-year-old student Harrison Brown.

The indictment means the grand jury believes evidence is sufficient for prosecutors to continue with the case. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public.

The district attorney’s office declined to comment. Defense attorney Jana Ortega, who is representing White, did not respond to a message.

White, who is being held on $1 million bail, is scheduled to appear in court on Friday. It is possible he will be arraigned at that appearance.

Previous hearings have centered around White’s mental health, both now and at the time of his arrest. A court-ordered evaluation found White to be competent, meaning he is able to assist his attorneys and is aware of the charges he faces.

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But at a June 9 hearing, state district Judge Tamara Needles held off on ordering a test for sanity. Prosecutors had requested the test, aimed at answering whether White knew right from wrong at the time of the attack. They had asked that the evaluation be conducted soon — before White’s condition changes — but Needles said it was too soon and that the grand jury had not made a decision on the case.

Legal experts say White’s defense counsel may have sufficient grounds to plead not guilty by insanity.

According to the arrest affidavit, White told police he may have been behind the attack but that he couldn’t be sure because he does not remember. He added voices in his head were telling him to be truthful because he had done nothing wrong.

White’s parents said their son was never the same following an April 4 car wreck that led to his drunken driving arrest. In the weeks between the DWI and the stabbing attack, White’s parents said they took him to an emergency room in their hometown of Killeen, which prompted an involuntarily commitment at a psychiatric hospital.