Lawyer wants mental health evaluation for teen charged with kill - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Lawyer wants mental health evaluation for teen charged with killing parents

James Gabriel "Gabe" McDonald is charged with capital murder. (Source: Justin Low, defense attorney) James Gabriel "Gabe" McDonald is charged with capital murder. (Source: Justin Low, defense attorney)
ODESSA, TX (KWES) -

Questions surrounding mental health may play a role in the unfolding capital murder case against an Odessa teen, his defense attorney said Thursday.

James Gabriel "Gabe" McDonald, 17, was arrested Wednesday after allegedly shooting and killing his parents at their Conley Avenue home with no clear motive.

He admitted to the crime during a police interview, the arrest affidavit states, and later retained Odessa-based attorney Justin Low to represent him.

The two met Wednesday night at the Ector County Detention Center but only spoke briefly about the deadly shooting, according to Low.

"His mental state made me concerned about going forward with much more," he said. "I just reassured him that he had an attorney and that his family was still supporting him."

The 17-year-old's parents, Gregg and Jana McDonald, both 52, were dead when authorities arrived at 5304 Conley Ave.

They had each sustained a single gunshot wound, according to investigators.

The accused shooter's sister, aunt, grandparents and other relatives "all stand behind him 100 percent," Low said.

"They have strong Christian values and they're handling this how [his parents] Gregg and Jana would have wanted them to," he said. "[His relatives'] support for him and their love for him is very apparent."

However, his competency to potentially stand trial is questionable, Low added. 

He said McDonald did not act as though he knew he was in jail when they met and reportedly "experienced a change in demeanor" the day before the shooting.

Public Odessa Police records linked to the ongoing investigation reveal no details about the teenager's current psychiatric health or any previously diagnosed conditions.

Wednesday morning was the first time McDonald had been known to exhibit violent tendencies, according to his attorney.

"We're all wanting a mental evaluation," Low said. "I think everyone needs that to happen to determine how the case will proceed."

Authorities could not confirm Thursday if a mental health evaluation will be conducted.

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