Smith's defense asks for more time to take medical tests

MANATEE -- Attorneys for convicted killer Delmer Smith filed a motion last week asking to postpone his pre-sentencing hearing until 2013, to conduct medical tests and analyses.

A jury convicted Smith, 41, on Aug. 9 and later recommended a death sentence for the Aug. 3, 2009, slaying of Kathleen Briles at her Terra Ceia home.

Before Judge Peter Dubensky sentences Smith to death or life in prison without parole, Smith is entitled to a hearing in which Smith, his defense and the state will a have a final opportunity to present evidence. The hearing was previously set for Sept. 27.

The defense filed several motions Thursday requesting funding for a high-resolution MRI scan, a PET scan and a mental health expert to interpret those tests. To allow time for those exams and analyses to be conducted, Smith's attorneys also filed a motion, unopposed by the state, to continue the hearing until 2013.

Dubensky has not filed a

ruling on the motions.

Smith, who has voiced discontent with his representation, was reluctant to undergo psychological evaluations for his trial.

Hyman Eisenstein, neuropsychologist testified in Smith's defense, citing brain impairments affecting Smith's "judgment, reasoning, problem-solving."

Eisenstein testified that Smith's impulsivity and lack of frontal-lobe cognitive functioning may have led to the events surrounding Briles' death.

He recommended a high resolution MRI scan and PET scan to be conducted to determine if Smith does, in fact, suffer from brain damage.

A PET, or positron emission tomography, scan uses a small amount of radioactive material to show functioning of tissue or organs in an imaging test, according to the Mayo Clinic's website. An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, test creates detailed images of tissue or organs by using a magnetic field and radio waves, the site states.

"Initially, Mr. Smith indicated to counsel that he was not willing to participate in a proposed evaluation involving MRI and PET scans of the brain," but recently advised "he is now willing to cooperate with such testing," the motion to continue states.

The defense has requested Dr. Ruben Gur, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, to perform quantitative analyses of the tests. Gur, who has previously testified in first-degree capital murder cases in Florida, is unavailable until early 2013, the motion states. His analyses will take approximately two months to complete.

Smith is being held at the Manatee County jail.

Elizabeth Johnson, Herald crime reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter @EJohnsonBHcrime.