Man facing murder, arson charges found incompetent to stand trial

By: Brian Wells | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 8, 2022

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ROSEVILLE — A man who has repeatedly refused to participate in court hearings related to charges that he is facing for allegedly killing a woman and setting her home on fire in 2021 was found incompetent to stand trial.

A hearing in Macomb County Circuit Court Sept. 8 reviewed a report from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Center for Forensic Psychiatry that found Robert Marcel Walton, 37, of Garden City, incompetent to stand trial.

Walton was absent from the hearing, continuing a trend of refusing to participate in his hearings.

“The last time I spoke with Mr. Walton, I did attempt to visit him at the jail, in which he refused to come out and speak with me,” said his attorney, Kenneth Vernier.

Due to his repeated absence, the forensic examiner had to do the evaluation based on court transcripts and recordings from the hearings that Walton did attend.

According to Circuit Court Judge Michael Servitto, based on what was sent, the examiner was able to gather enough information to rule Walton incompetent.

“She did indicate that there was enough information to surmount the presumption of competency in this case, having reviewed records and recorded footage from the recent court hearings,” he said.

The report also stated that Walton was displaying behavioral problems, such as not taking medication, having outbursts and delusional thoughts, Servitto said.

However, the examiner stated in the report that there was a likelihood that competency could be restored within 15 months if Walton is transferred to a structured inpatient hospital setting.

“The court does find that he is incompetent, and the court is ordering that there be an attempt from the forensic center that he be restored to competency in an inpatient setting, and the court will sign an order to that effect,” Servitto said.

Vernier and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Dena Keller both agreed to adjourning the hearing for 90 days. It was adjourned until 8:30 a.m. Dec. 1.

A previous report had been written without any information provided, Vernier said at an earlier hearing.

Walton is facing charges of first-degree murder and second-degree arson for allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend, Janisa Sumpter, 39, of Roseville, and setting her home on fire in April 2021.

Walton was arrested after he was seen on surveillance video walking away from the home before the fire started, according to police.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Walton faces life in prison without parole.

Contact Staff Writer Brian Wells at (248) 291-7637 or