Mental health at center of pre-trial for UT stabbing suspect Kendrex White

Kendrex White at his first court appearance on May 17, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)
Kendrex White at his first court appearance on May 17, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a pre-trial hearing set for Thursday afternoon, prosecutors will ask again to have their own expert evaluate Kendrex White for sanity. White was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on first-degree murder charges in connection with the stabbing attack on the University of Texas campus on May 1 that killed one student and injured three others.

White, 21, has also been indicted on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the three students he allegedly injured. Harrison Brown, 19, died that day after he was stabbed in the chest with a hunting knife.

Nearly five months later, and at the beginning of a new fall semester, UT students are still adjusting to being back on campus.

Harrison Brown, 19, graduated from Graham High School in Texoma in 2016. (KFDX Photo)
Harrison Brown, 19, graduated from Graham High School in Texoma in 2016. (KFDX Photo)

“I feel bad whenever people walk past here and they kind of just stare at it,” explained Krishant Dania in an interview Wednesday with KXAN outside the Gregory Gym. “They don’t feel comfortable here.”

Dania, now a sophomore, witnessed the chaos that day, and stayed behind to help an injured victim.

“I heard somebody gasping at the end of the table and then I saw somebody with a bunch of blood over their shirt, so I just thought maybe a rock or something fell and hit him. So I ran over and I put the put my hands on his wound,” Dania told KXAN in May.

The scariest part of that day, Dania says, was making eye contact with the suspect.

“I do remember looking him in the eye and feeling like, ‘Oh, man. This is like real, sort of. This is a real person doing all this,'” he said. “I could see the details in his face.”

Dania says even after what he witnessed, he feels safe on-campus. However, he says more work needs to be done.

“I feel like the mental health stuff needs to be stressed even more,” Dania said. “It’d be cool if people, myself included, looked out for other people more with regard to mental health.”

Representatives of student government say progress has been made since the attack in terms of communication and mental health resources for students.

“We’ve done a lot of good work and the collaboration hasn’t stopped,” said Alejandrina Guzman, UT student body president. “The administration has been working very closely with us to make sure that all students feel welcome and safe on campus.”

Guzman says these services are a priority in the effort to make sure another attack like this doesn’t happen again.

“The prevention aspect of it all is priority — which extends back to resources for students for mental health, and also safety resources on campus,” she said.

The hope is — with added mental health resources — future tragedies will be prevented.

“Harrison Brown won’t be forgotten. He lives in our hearts. He lives in my heart,” Guzman said. “We’re all Longhorns together. We’re here. We’re not alone, in that if anybody has anything that they’re going through — a situation — [we want them] to reach out.”

In June, White was found competent to stand trial by two doctors. His motion to be tested for insanity was denied.

Thursday’s pre-trial hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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