Judge Okays Mental Exam for Westside Shooter

BENTONVILLE, AR - A circuit judge has approved a request for a mental evaluation of Mitchell Johnson, who was convicted as a teen in the Westside Middle School shootings near Jonesboro and now faces unrelated drug and theft charges.

Monday, Benton County Circuit Judge Tom Keith approved a defense attorney's request for a mental exam for Johnson, 23.  Johnson faces felony theft and identity fraud charges, along with drug possession.  Police say Johnson took a debit card left by a disabled man at a gas station where Johnson worked.

Keith also canceled Johnson's June 24 jury trial date, and scheduled a status hearing for July 14.

In 1998, Johnson, then 13, and Andrew Golden, then 11, were arrested in the shooting deaths of four schoolmates and a teacher.  They were found guilty in juvenile court, detained until they turned 18, then transferred to federal custody.  Federal authorities released the two when they turned 21.

In January, a federal jury convicted Johnson of owning a gun while being a user of or addicted to a controlled substance.  He was released on bond while awaiting sentencing when he was arrested again on the Benton County charges and returned to jail.

Bentonville police say the debit card Johnson allegedly stole was used to make several purchases, including at the gas station and at a Burger King restaurant.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)