Ji Min Sha walks into court to be charged

Ji Min Sha walks with his attorney to the Tippecanoe County jail courtroom in October. Sha is charged with murder, and his attorneys will return to court Dec. 15, when the judge will decide whether to assign physicians to assess his competency.

Defense attorneys representing Ji Min Sha, the former Purdue student accused of killing his roommate in October, say Sha believes he is a former CIA operative "involved in international espionage."

That's according to information gathered by the state's initial investigation, the defense said in a November motion filed in Tippecanoe Circuit Court. The defense added that it possesses education records of Sha that "demonstrate significant concerns with defendant's perception of reality and mental state well in advance of the alleged offense."

The defense says those reasons are evidence of a good-faith belief that Sha isn't mentally fit to stand trial. 

For the decisions to be made, though, the court has to appoint doctors to evaluate Sha's mental well-being — something the judge will decide in a hearing set for Dec. 15.

The defense initially filed its notice of insanity defense and a request for a mental evaluation on Nov. 11. The court appointed doctors Jill Salem and Sean Samuels on Nov. 14.

The state disapproved, asking the court to vacate the order on the grounds that a hearing to determine whether Sha needs such an evaluation must come first. The state's Nov. 18 motion also claims that the assigned doctors are biased to defendants because they contract with the public defenders office. 

Circuit Court Judge Sean Persin vacated his order on Nov. 22, and, during a Friday morning status hearing, set Sha's new hearing for Dec. 15 at 8 a.m.

Recommended for you