Prosecutors Desk 5-15-16

One of the first steps that must be taken in any criminal case is to make sure the person accused is capable of understanding what is going on. They have to be able to make sense of the proceedings and to be able to assist his or her attorney. They must be competent to participate in the legal process. If they do not understand what is going on around them, then it would not be fair and right to proceed.

Usually, the competence or lack of it in a person is readily revealed in the first few minutes of contact with that person. Most of us respond rationally to questions and answers and when someone does not respond rationally, it is very apparent. The individual may talk gibberish, or make nonsensical statements in response to questions, or hear voices and respond to things that others present do not see or hear. They are in their own world.

In the criminal context, sometimes persons believe that they can escape responsibility for something if they can get other people to think they are mentally ill or have a mental defect. Sometimes people think if they act crazy then everyone will think they are crazy and so they will not be held accountable. This is usually not successful in the long run.

When a question arises about the competence of an accused person, either the state or the defense attorney can ask the court to have the accused evaluated to make sure they are competent. The court will usually order that someone from Eastern State Hospital make a determination about whether the accused is capable of understanding what is going on around him.

This evaluation is usually done in the jail and usually within 14 days of the request. If the person is competent, a report is given to the court and the case moves forward. If the person is not competent, then the person is sent to Eastern State Hospital for a period of 90 days to see if they can be restored to competency. If they are restored, the case can move forward. If not, there is another 90 period of restoration efforts. If the person cannot be restored, then proceedings are started for long-term commitment in a locked facility.

At this time, 30 year old Morgan L. Beadle, who is accused of killing Timothy L. Roberts, has been determined not to be competent to stand trial and will be transferred to Eastern State Hospital for an initial 90 restoration period. All proceedings have been halted until this determination is made.

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