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Court rules on competency for man charged in 2017 Snapchat slaying
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Talon Lowery , top right, appears on screen Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, during a hearing in Hall County Superior Court with Judge Kathlene Gosselin, top left, Dr. Wanda Shao, bottom left, and Dr. Lauren Chatham. Gosselin ruled that Lowery is competent to stand trial in the 2017 Texaco killing. - photo by Scott Rogers

A Hall County Superior Court judge ruled that a Sautee man charged in a 2017 fatal shooting that was filmed on Snapchat is competent to stand trial.

Talon Lowery, 23, was indicted in November 2017 with malice murder in the Nov. 2, 2017, shooting of Bryan Ramirez, 18, at the Cleveland Highway Texaco.

Ramirez, who worked at the Texaco, was taking a break outside when he was shot by a rifle from a passing Ford F150.

Lowery was identified as the suspect from a circulating Snapchat video of the shooting.

Lowery’s defense team, Jeffrey Brickman and Robert Rubin, filed paperwork in August to withdraw both a special plea of mental incompetency to stand trial and their demand for a special jury trial on competency.

The law required a bench trial in front of Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin, who heard from psychiatrists Drs. Wanda Shao and Lauren Chatham.

The psychiatrists present at the hearing said they believed Lowery was competent to stand trial.

In December 2020, Lowery was transferred into the custody of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, according to court filings.

“Over the past two years, doctors at Georgia Regional Hospital have tried different medications and combination of medications in order to restore (Lowery) to competency,” Brickman wrote in recent filings.

Brickman wrote Lowery’s “mental status greatly improved” after being prescribed certain drugs.

Chatham said she has seen huge improvement with Lowery talking on subjects at length with solid concentration. She also said there are no longer issues of hallucinations while the two speak.

“There are some things that have remained, such as there’s some delusions such as being a rapper, feeling that there are special messages coming from the TV or certain members of the staff that are not being explicitly said,” Chatham said. “But those did not interfere with any activities that he does during the day.” 

Chatham clarified that the delusions do not deal with the case and the aspects of a trial.

When asked for specifics by Rubin, Chatham said Lowery was listening to a radio commercial about a location in the city where the hospital is.

“He felt that that was telling him and telling others who were listening that he was at that hospital and was saying information about the hospital that was not being directly said,” Chatham said.

Earlier in his treatment, Lowery was receiving things that Chatham said “may not be as clinically appropriate such as gun magazines, photos of Instagram rappers, things of that nature.”

Shao said they want to remove things that can worsen or feed into a delusion.

“The general policy is that we do not let gun magazines into psychiatric hospitals for people charged with murder,” Shao said. “That’s just not something that is a good idea, common sense-wise.”

Shao said there are also similar prohibitions on violent videos and violent music

Gosselin ruled that Lowery is currently competent to stand trial and that the case will be moved back to Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden’s docket

Gosselin said Lowery will remain in the custody of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities until the trial.

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Talon Lowery , top right, appears on screen Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Hall County Superior Court where he withdraws his plea for mental incompetency to stand trial in the 2017 Texaco murder. - photo by Scott Rogers