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Murder suspect deemed competent to face charges in shooting posted on Snapchat
Teen accused of killing another teen in November 2017 at North Hall gas station
Talon Roame Lowery
Talon Roame Lowery

A Sautee teen accused of shooting and killing another teen at a North Hall gas station, an incident recorded and posted on Snapchat, is competent to stand to trial, a Hall County Superior Court judge ruled.

Following an Oct. 10 hearing, Judge Kathlene Gosselin wrote in a Nov. 5 order that while Talon Lowery “may not have understood the full severity of the consequences, he recognized he could be further detained.”

“As the court noted at the hearing, it is far from uncommon for young defendants to fail to appreciate the lifelong consequences of a criminal act,” according to the order.

Talon Roame Lowery, 19, was charged with malice murder, felony murder and two counts each of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. A grand jury handed down an indictment in November 2017.

He is accused of shooting Bryan Ramirez, 18, in the back with a rifle Nov. 2, 2017, at the Cleveland Highway Texaco.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks said a recording of the shooting was posted on Snapchat, which made its way to a White County investigator.

Lowery’s attorney Jeff Brickman did not return a request for comment Monday.

At the Oct. 10 hearing, the state presented a forensic psychologist from the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Denis Zavodny.

Although his answers were often delayed and he spoke of “vague suspicions of ‘people’ out to get him,” Lowery was “attentive, organized in his thinking and coherent,” according to the order.

The state’s expert administered a series of tests to Lowery. In the first, Lowery scored “so high that Dr. Zavodny said that it meant he could ‘pretty confidently say’ that he was exaggerating or feigning symptoms,” according to the order.

Two tests showed possible exaggerated illness, while the third test on legal knowledge did not.

Lowery was also able to answer 25 of 26 written questions correctly regarding his case.

Zavodny also addressed Lowery’s reported auditory hallucinations, the details of which Zavodny testified “proved to be at odds with what is generally known to be true about patients suffering from hallucinations.

“Very atypically, Mr. Lowery reported that the voices he heard were often robots or animals, were always yelling, spoke only negative statements, were not impacted by his mood or the presence of other individuals, and would not go away no matter what he did,” according to the court order.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Norman was the first to assess Lowery in November 2017 and again in January.

The doctor was “particularly concerned with Lowery’s ability to assist his attorney and was troubled that he continued to speak of getting out ‘in a few months,’” according to the order.

“On cross-examination (at the Oct. 10 hearing), Dr. Norman offered that Lowery had received average grades in school and had no clinical or anecdotal history of psychosis,” according to the order.

A second doctor opined at the hearing that she believed he exhibited symptoms of a psychotic disorder.

Brickman met with Lowery roughly 15 times at the jail and testified having “very little success at having a coherent conversation with him,” according to the order.

The court ruled Lowery was capable of understanding the charges against him and assisting his counsel at trial.