Montgomery murder suspect Brent Springford Junior appeared before a circuit court judge Wednesday morning and entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Springford is accused of killing his parents in their affluent Hull Street home in November 2004, then going on the run to Colorado.
Springford wore a jail issue orange jumpsuit, but it was his personal appearance that shocked many court observers.
His hair, which was short in his jail mugshot from 2005, was past his shoulders, and his once-trimmed beard fell to his chest. Even his attorneys concede there's a striking difference.
"He's doing about as well as can be expected, " said Springford attorney Bill Blanchard.
Springford did not speak as the district attorney read his five count indictment into the record. Then, his attorneys entered his plea to the capital murder charges.
That plea allows the state to submit Springford to a psychological evaluation to see if he suffers from insanity. His lawyers also revealed they had an independent exam done last year.
"Our plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect is indeed premised on that examination," Blanchard said.
They also revealed doctors have treated Springford for mental illness while he sat in jail.
"And during that time, he's been under medication for a mental condition," Blanchard explained.
Judge William Shashy ordered Prosecutor Daryl Bailey to come up with a timetable to get Springford in front of a psychologist. Bailey doesn't know yet when that will happen.
"It's not really under control of our office, but we hope that will be carried out as soon as possible," he said.
If the state doctors conclude Springford is sane, the court battle may change from a question of innocence or guilt to whose expert the jury believes.
"I think there's a possibility that would occur," said Blanchard.
So now the chess match begins between the two sides.
Prosecutor Daryl Bailey said he didn't know Springford had already undergone a psychological evaluation. He wasn't surprised Springford's attorneys made that move.
The next step is to get Springford in front of a state designated doctor and the court will then set a calendar leading to a trial date.