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Defendant in East Atlanta murder competent to stand trial 

More than a year after police arrested a 15-year-old suspect in the shooting death of Christian Henderson, who was walking with his fiancee from an East Atlanta restaurant to their car, a judge has ruled that the troubled teenager is fit for trial.

On Nov. 7, DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger denied the defense's claim that LaVan Hickman, who is now 17, is too mentally ill for trial. Although a doctor called by the defense diagnosed Hickman with schizophrenia, another doctor conducting a court-ordered assessment testified Hickman does not suffer from the disorder, according to DeKalb Assistant District Attorney Greg Schwarz.

"That's the last major issue that I'm aware of," Schwarz says of last week's competency hearing. The case "sat waiting for that to get done. Now we'll start cranking it up and getting everything lined up for trial."

Hickman's attorney, public defender Juwayn Haddad, could not be reached for comment.

Henderson, a 32-year-old wine purveyor well respected in the city's restaurant community, was robbed at gunpoint and shot in front of his fiancee just after 10:15 p.m. about a block-and-a-half from the busy East Atlanta intersection of Flat Shoals and Glenwood avenues. He died 12 days after the March 2003 attack.

The case likely will be tried in December, Schwarz says.

To read more about the Henderson case, visit atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2003-04-02/news_feature.html; atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2003-04-09/news_ feature.html; and atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2003-06- 26/news_brief.html.

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