Cope to plea insanity

by | February 28, 2018 1:57 pm

by HALEI LAMB

   At a hearing held Feb. 7, Oliver Baylen Cope pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and murder, among other charges, and the defense is planning to pursue insanity. Cope is represented by Statesboro attorneys Daniel Snipes and Joey Cowart.

   He is the alleged driver of the deadly Taco Bell crash, which occurred last fall. Investigators say the defendant was passing through Swainsboro on Sept. 28, 2017, on his return home to Statesboro from college in Athens when he drove his car across four lanes of Highway 1 into the restaurant, killing 23-year-old Macy Purvis Mullis and injuring several others.

   During last week’s hearing, Cope’s family physician took the stand and testified that he needed care beyond that of a county jail. Specifically, Dr. Gerguis indicated that Cope required multiple types of daily psychiatric care, as well as various medications for Bipolar I.
   For these reasons, the defense asked that Cope remain at John’s Place, a mental health rehabilitation center in Statesboro, instead of being transported to a jail.

   Victims and prosecutors, alike, initially objected to the request, but when the court came back from recess, their stance had changed after learning about the security of the center.

   Sheriff Tyson Stephens attended the hearing and stated that his department would be communicative with authorities in Bulloch County. Should Cope misbehave at any time, he could be jailed instead.

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