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Mental Tests For Killing Spree Suspect

A judge has ordered that the man accused of killing three people in a Pennsylvania shooting spree last week must be sent to a state hospital and evaluated for his mental fitness to stand trial.

Doctors at Mayview State Hospital will interview Ronald Taylor to determine whether he understands the homicide charges against him and whether he can help in his defense, ruled Judge Jeffrey Manning.

In court appearances last week, Taylor said he did not understand the charges against him nor the proceedings themselves. He also said he had been treated for mental illnesses.

"It is apparent to counsel that the defendant does not understand what happened on the date for which these crimes are charged," Taylor's lawyer, James Ecker, wrote in a petition for the transfer.

Taylor, 39, is accused of fatally shooting a maintenance man March 1 at his apartment building in Wilkinsburg, setting his apartment on fire, then shooting four people, killing two at fast-food restaurants.

Taylor, who is black, allegedly yelled racial epithets at white maintenance workers and shot only white men on his rampage.

Investigators said writings police found in Taylor's apartment contained references to medical problems and invectives aimed at Jews, Asians, whites, Italians, police and the media.

Taylor also has been charged with ethnic intimidation, Pennsylvania's equivalent of a hate crime. The FBI is investigating for possible violations of the victims' civil rights.

A court affidavit said some of the writings found in Taylor's apartment denigrated Asians, police, Italians and the news media. One document was labeled "The Satan List" and listed the addresses of buildings in Wilkinsburg. The two fast-food restaurants in Taylor's path were reportedly not on the list.

Taylor was released from a psychiatric unit at St. Francis Medical Center six months ago, after spending more than a month in the hospital, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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