Oconee County man who killed his parents undergoing psychiatric evaluation


Peyton Moyer

By Joe Johnson

An Oconee County man who killed wis mother and stepfather six months ago is being evaluated at a state hospital to determine his competency to stand trial.

Early the morning of Dec. 28, 20-year-old Peyton Moyer reportedly shot and killed his mother Ashley Schutza, 41, and stepfather, Benjamin “Benji” Smith, 54, according to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

Ashley Schutza and Benjamin Smith

Moyer, who lived with his family on Boldercrest Circle in Watkinsville, fled in a family car but was later arrested by Athens-Clarke County police aft they flattened the car by deploying a strip of spikes in its path. He was subsequently charged with two counts of murder and cruelty to children, due to his two juvenile stepsisters being home at the time of the killings.

On April 12, defense attorney Jeremiah Roberts, filed a motion requesting that his client be given a mental health evaluation because it was believed that Moyer" is suffering or has suffered some mental or psychological infirmity” that would render him incapable of assisting in his defense or preventing him from comprehending the nature of the charges he faced.

When asked Thursday if he believed mental illness was a factor in Moyer’s crimes, Oconee County Sheriff James Hale said,” Short answer is yes. Moyer has an extensive mental health history.”

Also on April 12, Western Judicial Circuit Judge H. Patrick Haggard approved the defense motion and ordered that Moyer be evaluated by the Forensic Services Team of Georgia Regional Hospial in Augusta

The judge ordered the hospital that on completion of the evaluation, the forensics team must “submit in writing a report and/or a recommendation for the use of the court.”

The evaluation at the secure psychiatric hospital was ongoing this week, according to the Oconee County Superior Court Clerk’s Office.

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