Attorneys ask for psych evaluation for Ole Miss murder suspect Brandon Theesfeld as Ally Kostial’s friends and family fill the courtroom

Updated: Aug. 22, 2019 at 3:52 PM CDT
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OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - Ole Miss student Brandon Theesfeld appeared in court for the first time Thursday in connection with the murder of fellow student Ally Kostial.

Kostial was found dead near Sardis Lake last month with multiple gunshot wounds. Authorities have not detailed the relationship between Theesfeld and Kostial, but friends describe it as “complicated.”

Theesfeld has been in jail without bond since July.

His defense team is made up of cousins Tony and Steve Farese as well as Oxford attorney Swayze Alford. They were expected to ask a Lafayette County judge to set a bond, but withdrew their request Thursday.

Instead, the defense is asking for a psychological evaluation at the Mississippi State Mental Hospital. There is no timetable for how long a mental evaluation will take, though both sides acknowledged in Mississippi it can take a substantial amount of time.

Thursday’s hearing was supposed to include testimony but lasted less than five minutes. The defense’s announcement that they received new information in the case sent the courtroom abuzz, but they wouldn’t say what the new information was.

“Swayze Alford, Steve Farese and I reviewed that with all the family members of Brandon as well as Brandon, and it was our collective decision that it was in Brandon’s best interest to withdraw our request for a bond at this time,” said Tony Farese.

Prosecutors say they met with defense attorneys Wednesday when bond was still the focus of Thursday’s hearing.

“Can’t speculate as to what were the factors they considered as not wanting to have a hearing today,” said District Attorney Ben Creekmore. "As far as I'm concerned, our motion to hold him without bond is still in effect."

Both Theesfeld and Kostial were Ole Miss students from other states. Their families traveled to Mississippi Thursday for the hearing, Theesfeld’s from Fort Worth, Texas and Kostial’s from the St. Louis, Missouri area.

Kostial’s family addressed her death for the first time Thursday on camera. Her cousin read a brief statement in the courtroom.

“We pray for strength in the coming days and are grateful for the friends, neighbors, coworkers and many others who have supported us,” said Kristi Kelley.

Kostial’s friends held signs outside the courthouse before the hearing as a show of support. they also wore pink, her favorite color.

“We are here to get justice for her and support her family,” said Morgan Hull.

The case is expected to be presented to a grand jury in the coming days.

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