TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) _ A Cherokee County judge has ruled that a Hulbert man is legally competent to stand trial on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of a Welling couple.


The ruling cleared the way for a preliminary hearing of the state's evidence for 21 year old Johnny Potts. Potts is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of William McKinley ``Junior'' Ryals, 74, and Elsie Ryals, 65, who were found dead at their home July 26.


In February, Potts was found to be temporarily incompetent and was sent to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita for treatment.


Assistant District Attorney Donovan Dobbs said the treatment appeared to benefit Potts, noting Potts' demeanor in the courtroom Wednesday had improved remarkably.


``He really is a lot different,'' Dobbs said. ``At this point, he is competent and receiving proper treatment.''


Dobbs said an order will be filed in the case to ensure Potts is monitored closely in jail and provided with his prescription medication, Haldol. The medication is often used to treat patients with schizophrenia.