Accused killer will not be released, legal expert says

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Three families continue to suffer as the legal case against Joseph Bossard continues on to a third year. Bossard is accused of shooting to death two young men and severely wounding a third in February 2021.

As of Thursday, Bossard has been at the Allen County Jail for 94 weeks, after being taken into custody several hours after he was charged with shooting and killing Anderson Retic, 19, and Joshua Cole Cooper, 19, both of Fort Wayne and shooting Jaylin Rice, 20, who survived his life-threatening injuries.

In late November of this year, Bossard was found incompetent to stand trial by psychiatric doctors hired by the defense and Allen Superior Court Judge David Zent.

Wednesday, a transport order was issued by Zent so that Bossard can be removed from the Allen County Jail and taken to an unidentified state mental hospital in the hope that his competency can be restored to the point he can stand trial.

“The court finds defendant is currently incompetent to stand trial as he lacks the ability to assist counsel in his defense,” was noted in court documents, an order signed Nov. 22 when the incompetency was declared.

Another competency hearing scheduled for Dec. 19 was rescheduled for Jan. 6. WANE legal analyst Robert Scremin says when Bossard is treated at a state mental institution, competency could be restored by January.

Case background

On Feb. 17, 2021 at the Shell gas station at State Boulevard and Hobson Road, Bossard shot the three around 7 p.m. at gas pump 9 before pursuing them as they tore down Hobson to escape his bullets, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police arrived to pull the victims out of a blue 2008 Hyundai Sonata and attempted to save them as they lay on a snow bank. Retic and Cooper were pronounced dead at the scene.

Medications at jail weren’t taken, defense says

In January of this year, Zent determined Bossard was competent. However, “between that time and August when his defense attorneys filed to have that competency re-evaluated, what they alleged in their motion, is that the jail, for whatever reason, didn’t provide some of the medications to Mr. Bossard and his condition deteriorated and they asked to have him re-evaluated,” Robert Scremin, WANE legal analyst, said Wednesday.

“Two doctors agreed that he is now incompetent to stand trial. The judge accepted that finding and issued an order saying that Mr. Bossard needs to be transported to an Indiana mental health institution for treatment and evaluation,” Scremin added.” Their report is due within 90 days of the order on Nov. 22, court documents say.

Jail medical provider says inmate has last say on meds

Administering medications in the jail can be tricky because the inmate has the last say, except when the court orders the medication and, even then, it can be difficult, said Lisa Scroggins, president of Quality Correctional Care, the medical provider at the Allen County Jail and about 75 jails statewide.

“We run into these cases statewide on a regular basis,” Scroggins said, adding that jails have become “the new holding facilities for a lot of people with mental illness.”

If a judge orders a medication, the meds are provided on a daily basis or every day it is prescribed, Scroggins said.

“If someone is not compliant, the patient has the right to refuse it unless the judge orders a forced medication. Every time a medication is offered, it is documented, Scroggins said.

January 6 still set for next competency hearing

Scremin says the January hearing date is still included in court documents most likely “just to see how things are going. Because they’ve got some trial dates and they want to hang on to those dates if possible. It’s entirely possible, if he’s back on medication, that the state hospital may determine he is competent to stand trial by January,” he added.

If it turns out he isn’t, the trial dates will be rescheduled. Currently, his 10-day trial is set to begin Feb. 27. and continue through March 10. The charges which include two counts of murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery where defendant knowingly inflicts injury creating a substantial risk of death, criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon and using a firearm in the commission of an offense is also a trial for life without parole.

Scremin says the family shouldn’t worry that Bossard will escape or be released.

“These are very secure institutions,” Scremin said. “They deal with this type of situation all the time.  So he’ll be transported from the Allen County Jail to a very secure mental health institution and when, or if, he’s found to be competent, he’ll go back to the Allen County Jail. He won’t be released.”

According to protocol, a judge issues an order for transport that gets picked up by the state’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction. The jail waits for a state psychiatric hospital to alert staff when an opening occurs, Steve Stone, spokesman for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department, said.

“The order comes down. We get a copy and the mental institution gets a copy. They contact us and say ‘here’s when we have a bed available,’ and then we make arrangements with them,” Stone said.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Bossard is seen on store camera video approaching the Hyundai and opening fire, then jumping into his red pickup truck to pursue them as they drive off. Just prior to the attack, he reportedly got into an argument with the three of them inside the convenience store. Why they argued has not been divulged.