Haskell collapses in court as details of Texas murder read

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HOUSTON, Texas (AP) - A man accused of killing six members of his ex-wife's family, including four children, collapsed in court Friday as a prosecutor recited the charges against him.

A shackled Ronald Lee Haskell was standing before a state district judge during a probable cause hearing when he fell to the ground. Deputies lifted him to his feet and the 33-year-old Haskell stood for about another minute before collapsing again.

He was then lifted into a chair and wheeled from the courtroom.

"His face, he obviously lost blood in his face, and his knees buckled," Haskell's attorney, Doug Durham, said. "He's scared. I think he has a limited mental capacity of what's going on."

Before the collapses, Haskell had acknowledged with a quiet "Yes" a couple of questions put to him by State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis about his legal rights. Ellis ordered Haskell held without bond.

Haskell collapses in court as details of Texas murder read
Ronald Lee Haskell is escorted by deputies for a hearing on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Houston. Haskell, 33, is accused of killing his ex-wife's sister, Katie Stay, her husband and the children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, after binding and putting them face-down on the floor of their suburban Houston home. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer, Pool)
Ronald Lee Haskell is wheeled from the courtroom after collapsing during a hearing in court on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Houston. Haskell, 33, is accused of killing his ex-wife's sister, Katie Stay, her husband and the children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, after binding and putting them face-down on the floor of their suburban Houston home. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer, Pool)
Ronald Lee Haskell collapses as he appears in court on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Houston. Haskell, 33, is accused of killing his ex-wife's sister, Katie Stay, her husband and the children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, after binding and putting them face-down on the floor of their suburban Houston home. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer, Pool)
Ronald Lee Haskell collapses as he appears in court on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Houston. Haskell, 33, is accused of killing his ex-wife's sister, Katie Stay, her husband and the children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, after binding and putting them face-down on the floor of their suburban Houston home. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer, Pool)
A photograph, flowers and candles are left on the porch where a fatal home shooting took place Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Spring, Texas. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four children on Wednesday night and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl, who called 911. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A family who identified themselves as friends of the victims, make their way to the house where six people were fatally shot to place flowers and a photograph on the porch Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Spring, Texas. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four children on Wednesday night and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl, who called 911. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A family who identified themselves as friends of the victims, pause on the porch Thursday, July 10, 2014, after placing flowers and a framed photograph at the door of the home where a gunman killed six people Wednesday in Spring, Texas. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Haskell surrendered Wednesday night to end the domestic dispute in Spring. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four of his children and critically wounded his 15-year-old daughter, who called 911. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
 A family who identified themselves as friends of the victims, pause on the porch Thursday, July 10, 2014, after placing flowers and a framed photograph at the door of the home where a gunman killed six people Wednesday in Spring, Texas. The Harris County Sheriff?s Office says Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four children on Wednesday night and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl, who called 911. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
This booking photo provided by the Harris County Sheriff's Office shows Ronald Lee Haskell. Haskell, 33, is charged with multiple counts of capital murder in the killings of two adults and four children Wednesday evening, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hickman said early Thursday. He also is accused of critically wounding a 15-year-old girl in the shooting rampage. (AP Photo/Harris County Sheriff's Office)
Faculty and parents gather outside Lemm Elementary School after placing ribbons on the trees in honor of those killed in a multiple shooting Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Spring, Texas. Some of the victims were students at the school. The Harris County Sheriff's Office says Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four children on Wednesday night and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl, who called 911.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
This undated photo released by the Cache County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 10, 2014 shows Ronald Lee Haskell. On Thursday, Utah authorities said the 33-year-old man accused of killing four children and two adults in a Houston suburb had previous run-ins with Utah police. (AP Photo/Cache County Sheriff's Office)
A weathered address sign painted like the Texas flag is shown outside the home where a multiple shooting took place Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Spring, Texas. The Harris County Sheriff's Office says Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four children on Wednesday night and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl, who called 911. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The home which was the scene of a multiple shooting Wednesday evening is shown Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Spring, Texas. The Harris County Sheriff's Office says Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four children on Wednesday night and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl, who called 911. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A family who identified themselves as friends of the shooting victims leave the home where the family was shot after placing flowers and a framed photograph on the porch Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Spring, Texas. The Harris County Sheriff's Office said Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four children on Wednesday night and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl, who called 911. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Neighbors of the shooting victims, from left, Viri Palacios, her brother Miguel and sister Anamari talk about the shooting deaths that occurred across the street from their home Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Spring, Texas. The Harris County Sheriff's Office says Ronald Lee Haskell was booked Thursday on a capital murder/multiple murders charge and held without bond. Authorities believe Haskell fatally shot two adults and four children on Wednesday night and critically wounded a 15-year-old girl, who called 911. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Tammy Thomas, the lead Harris County assistant district attorney in the case, said she had no idea what was going on.

"Maybe reality is finally setting in," she said. "It's not television, this is not fiction. He is facing his consequences."

Thomas said she expected a grand jury to issue a capital murder indictment as a result of Wednesday's shooting that killed Stephen and Katie Stay along with four of their children, ranging in age from 4 to 14.

Authorities have said Haskell was searching for his ex-wife, Katie Stay's sister, when he forced his way into the home in the northern Houston suburb of Spring.

He tied up the family and put them face-down on the floor before shooting each in the back of the head, according to investigators. The family had refused to say where Haskell could find his ex-wife.

The lone survivor of the attack, the couple's 15-year-old daughter, suffered a fractured skull when a bullet grazed her head but was able to call 911 and provide Haskell's identity and description.

Durham, who has been appointed by the court as the defense counsel, said his focus will be Haskell's mental condition "and whether he was legally responsible at the time of his conduct."

"Obviously the evidence is very compelling that he was responsible for the deaths of these children and his ex-wife's sister and her husband," Durham said. "It's a terrible tragedy. The question is: Is he legally responsible from a criminal standpoint?"

He said state and national laws say a person suffering from severe mental illness is not criminally responsible if they can't distinguish right from wrong.

"And I think the evidence is going to show ... he is a troubled individual and he has a history of mental illness. Unfortunately, the delivery of the health care has failed in this system."

Thomas said the defense strategy was not surprising, "because there aren't many explanations otherwise for him to grasp."

But she said the probable cause in the case showed a "determined effort involved, the planning, the conscious decisions."

She said she would present evidence to a grand jury to seek a capital murder indictment and a decision on the death penalty would be made later by elected District Attorney Devon Anderson.

"It makes no difference to me whether he ever fully understands how much trouble he's in," Thomas said. "I'm going to let a jury tell him how much trouble he's in."

Houston Gunman Ron Haskell Collapses In Court

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