You probably recall the story of Andrew Compton, the 18-year old Sullivan University student who went missing in the fall of 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. In a criminal case the relies largely on DNA, forensics and the confession of his accused killer, Kentucky prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 41-year old Gregory O’Bryan. The Commonwealth’s Attorney (which is the same thing as a prosecutor or district attorney) has asked a judge to order a competency evaluation for Gregory O’Bryan, who is charged with murder in the 2010 death of 18-year-old Sullivan University student Andrew Compton.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Van De Rostyne told Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry Thursday the request was prompted by a review of O’Bryan’s medical records and an interview with police in which O’Bryan indicated he had received psychiatric treatment. Strangely it isn’t clear if Perry granted the motion, as defense attorneys asked to approach the bench and the rest of the discussion — more than 20 minutes — was done in private. Perry then ordered the bench conference confidential and forbid either side from discussing it publicly.
Angela Compton (center) and John Compton (right) at a vigil held for their son Andrew in the fall of 2010. (Photo from WLKY CBS 32)
Another hearing has been set for mid-April. Compton has not been seen since Oct. 28, 2010. O’Bryan admitted the teen had died, saying it happened while the two had sex. He also admitted he had sex with Compton’s body after the teen died and then put the body in a garbage bin at Our Lady of Peace psychiatric hospital along Newburg Road. Police tracked the contents of the garbage bin to a landfill near Medora, Ind., and searched for the body for 10 days, but found nothing. O’Bryan is charged with murder, sodomy, two counts of tampering with physical evidence and three counts of abuse of a corpse. He has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted. His trial is set for November.
What bothers this journalist is on a human level. Andrew has not been found. O’Bryan told Louisville Police that he folded the body and placed it in a box, he said. However, a 10-day search of a southern Indiana landfill turned up no sign of Compton. O’Bryan will face the death penalty during his trial but not having a body poses a challenge for prosecutors. I have suggested that finding Andrew’s body should be a priority in this case…for the Compton family. O’Bryan has told the police that Compton died, possibly from a broken neck which he says happened during sex. I’m not buying it. Here’s why. Andrew had a heart condition and a police search of O’Bryan’s computers discovered that he had researched the date-rape drug GHB.
Suppose Andrew overdosed, accidentally, on GHB and died. To me, an admitted layman although one who has covered news for more than 30 years, this seems somewhat more plausible then a broken neck happening during sex. I don’t see how Kentucky will get a death penalty conviction without Andrew’s body so to not talk to O’Bryan, ask for some more details about what happened and offer to remove the death penalty from the equation if and only if he takes the police to Andrew’s body seems to make a lot of sense. Approaching O’Bryan on a human level may very well be the only hope for bringing Andrew home. The Compton’s, John and Angela, have not spoken publicly about the case and they were reprimanded by the judge for writing a letter to O’Bryan asking where Andrew was. It’s probably time…past time…for the prosecutor to get on board with bringing Andrew home and bringing this case to a realistic conclusion.