Maurice Louis, the 29-year-old man accused of killing four family members in West Philadelphia, has been deemed incompetent to stand trial after a psychiatrist concluded he was too mentally troubled to assist in his defense.
Louis was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in October after police said he confessed to shooting his mother, Janet Woodson, 51; stepfather, Leslie Holmes, 56; and half-brothers Sy-eed Woodson, 18, and Leslie Woodson-Holmes, 7.
Officers found the family dead inside their West Philadelphia home on Oct. 30 after they were called for a wellness check. Louis was found sitting naked in a chair, holding a bottle of vodka, authorities said. Messages in the family’s blood were on the walls.
Louis had a mental-health examination on Dec. 20, according to court records, and the psychiatrist declared him mentally unfit. Louis, who is in custody at the Philadelphia Detention Center, will be re-evaluated within 30 days. Such evaluations are meant to ensure a suspect understands the charges against them and can assist with their defense; once Louis is deemed mentally fit, the case can proceed.
Louis’ court-appointed lawyer, Fred Harrison, could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.
Louis, who grew up in Philadelphia, has a history of mental health troubles, which family members have said worsened after he left for college at Towson University in Maryland.
In 2018, shortly after moving back home, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia following an eight-day stay at Mercy Catholic Medical Center’s Mercy Philadelphia Campus in West Philly.
Then, the night before the killings, documents obtained by The Inquirer show, Louis’ mother, brought her son to the Mercy Fitzgerald Campus’ crisis intervention center in Darby Borough and asked for help. But Louis said he was mentally sound, had no suicidal urges, and didn’t want to talk to a psychiatrist. The hospital sent them on their way.
The next morning, police say, Louis rode the subway to a gun store, bought a shotgun, and killed his family.
(In Pennsylvania, people who have been deemed mentally incompetent or ordered committed to a mental institution by a judge are barred from purchasing a gun. It’s unclear whether Louis’ 2018 stay at the West Philly facility was voluntary or in response to a court-commitment order.)
Mercy Fitzgerald’s crisis center, which provided immediate and short-term psychological care, had failed five consecutive inspections from the Department of Human Services and was closed a day after a team from the state visited, seeking information about how it had handled the mother and son.
Then on Dec. 27, Mercy Catholic announced plans to close its Philadelphia crisis center as well. The hospital relinquished its license after its center failed a November inspection and was cited by the state for overusing restraints. Also, on Dec. 15 police had been called to the hospital after an altercation between a nurse and a patient in the crisis center. No charges were filed, police said.