HOUSTON (KTRK) --IHaving been declared incompetent to stand trial, murder suspect Shannon Miles is set to go to a state mental health facility. However, because of a backlog in the availability of mental health beds, Miles was expected to wait several months in the Harris County jail. That was before State Senator John Whitmire got involved.
Now, there's a war of words has developed between Miles' defense lawyer Anthony Asso, and Texas' senior senator.
"I just thought it was good for everyone concerned to expedite to his admittance to a state mental health facility," said Senator Whitmire.
Whitmire says after hearing from the media there was a months-long backlog to find a bed in a mental health hospital for Miles, he picked up the phone and called state officials speed up the process. However, Osso says he didn't ask, and never wanted, the senator's help.
"I feel like they're using my client as a political pawn," said Osso, who told Eyewitness News he spoke to the Senator on the phone. "That's what I feel like. And I have enough issues in this case and we didn't need this twist."
Osso says the firing of two Harris County Sheriff Deputies for having a relationship with Deputy Darrin Goforth's alleged mistress has kept him busy. Still, he took the time to tour the Harris County Jail and doesn't feel like Miles' safety is at risk. In addition, Osso says he doesn't want his client to get singled out in jail nor at the mental health facility.
"We have a mental health backlog, in our jail, and it's a big statewide issue. He's aware of it, he's known about it, they haven't done anything about it until now," said Osso, who wonders why the senator didn't call him months ago, when Miles was first arrested.
Sen. Whitmire says he contacted officials only recently because Miles was only declared incompetent a few days ago. He points out that the other inmates waiting for beds are not accused of killing a deputy. If he can get a high-profile inmate into a safer environment for everyone, he's just doing his job.
"Why would anyone question the good judgment of getting him out of that environment?" asked Whitmire. "Because I think the Harris County Jail on any given day is not safe for anyone. Not to mention someone with Mr. Miles' charges."