WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The defense team for Jason Dunigan informed the Circuit Court of Washington County that the suspect intends to rely on the defense of “mental disease or defect” in his upcoming murder trial.
Dunigan, 40, of Farmington, is accused of killing his wife after she was found with a gunshot wound to the head in a car off Arkansas Highway 16 in May 2021. Dunigan was arrested and charged with capital murder on February 19.
Prosecutors submitted an information sheet to the Fourth Judicial District Court on February 17, outlining the felony information of the case. The filing specifically alleges that “the defendant shot his wife in the head” and that he did so “with the premeditated and deliberated purpose of causing the death of another person.”
Investigators found a small piece of neon green fabric by the woman’s head wound and the material “appeared to be very similar to the fabric used on the suspect’s work shirts.” According to a police report, this led investigators to believe that “one of the suspect’s work shirts had been used to muffle the sound of a gunshot.”
A handful of court filings and orders on September 26 addressed the defense’s plan to incorporate Dunigan’s mental state as part of its defense. Judge Mark Lindsay ordered Dunigan to undergo a “fitness to proceed” examination and a criminal responsibility examination.
Those orders require Dunigan to be examined by independent mental health examiners, who will then present a report to the court.
“The examiner shall not render an opinion or issue a report on criminal responsibility if the examiner believes that the defendant is not fit to proceed,” the order notes.
No deadlines or examination dates were included in the court’s orders. Dunigan’s trial is set to begin on September 30. He has entered a plea of not guilty.