Accused Spring gunman collapses during court appearance

HOUSTON -- Ron Lee Haskell, the man accused of killing six family members at a home in Spring, collapsed this morning during reading of allegations against him in a Harris County courtroom.

"Maybe reality is finally setting in. This is not television, this is not fiction. He is facing his consequences," Assistant Harris County DA Tammy Thomas said.

Haskell, 33, was then wheeled back out of the courtroom in a wheelchair. His attorney, Doug Durham, spoke to the media after the collapse saying he could tell something was wrong.

"He seemed a little out of it, mentally," Durham said.

Durham says his defense likely will be mental illness. He wouldn't go into specifics but he says Haskell was in and out of hospitals in Utah and was not compliant with taking medication. Durham spent about a half hour with Haskell before court. He describes him as despondent but says he never showed any indication of remorse.

"He was nervous, scared and his affect was not completely appropriate in my judgment," Durham said.

Durham is a private attorney and former federal prosecutor. He is not a public defender and took Haskell's case at the request of the judge. Durham is a close friend and former office mate of Criminal Defense Attorney George Parnham, the man who defended Andrea Yates.

Haskell faces capital murder charges in the Wednesday killing of six family members at a Spring home. He allegedly tied them up, then shot each one execution style.

The deceased victims have been identified as Stephen and Katie Stay and four of their children died in the shooting. Their 15-year-old sister Cassidy Stay is the only survivor, and it is only because she told law enforcement he was going after more of her family that deputy constables were able to intercept him. Investigators say he was after his ex and was doing anything he could to get to her.

"We have alleged an intentional act on the part of this defendant against seven innocent people," Thomas said.

Prosecutors believe the motive was Haskell's divorce proceedings from Katie's sister. Her sister had moved from Utah to the Houston area along with the children she shared with Haskell. Records show he's been accused of domestic violence before.

After Haskell collapsed during this morning's hearing, Prosecutor Tammy Thomas said "maybe reality is finally setting in and he is facing his consequences."

An official memorial page for the family has been set up on Facebook, and those who want to donate to the family can do so on
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