FORT WAYNE – The jury had much to consider in the case against Daniel Spells Jr.
Was he guilty of attempted murder or a lesser charge? What was his mental state at the time he drew a gun and fired it while struggling with a police officer a little over a year ago?
Jurors found Spells guilty Wednesday of attempted murder, carrying a handgun without a license with a prior felony conviction, criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, resisting law enforcement and being a habitual offender. He will be sentenced in July.
Spells, 34, of the 2100 block of Asquith Drive, was accused of trying to kill Fort Wayne police officer Treven Brown.
In May 2013, Spells drew a handgun and fired at Brown, who was responding to a domestic dispute in the 3100 block of South Harrison Street. Hearing the suspect had left the scene, Brown spotted Spells a few blocks away, appearing to fit the description of the man for whom Brown was looking.
Spells was not that man, but his behavior as Brown approached him led the officer to believe he was intoxicated.
Spells angled his body and put his hand on his right side, pulling a .45-caliber handgun. As Brown tried to grab Spells from behind, Spells fired two shots, with the muzzle of the pistol about a foot from Brown’s shoulder, court records said.
The two struggled, falling to the ground, where Spells fired the gun again. Neither was struck by a bullet, but during the fight, Spells was able to bring his right arm up again and fire two more shots at the officer, court records said.
Brown eventually was able to grab the gun with one hand and Spells’ wrist with the other, but Spells continued to fire the weapon until it was empty, causing slight injuries to Brown’s hand.
On Tuesday, Spells’ defense lawyer, Quinton Ellis, argued that although his client had the gun, he was trying to throw it away because he did not legally have it. The shots were fired unintentionally, Ellis said.
Since Spells’ arrest, his competency has been an issue, and Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull appointed three mental health experts to evaluate Spells. The judge later found he was competent to stand trial.
Testimony on Wednesday during the second day of the trial included Brown, Spells and the mental health experts.