Newlon found competent to stand trial

ELKINS – An 82-year-old Kerens man accused of fatally shooting his wife was declared competent to stand trial by Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong Friday in Randolph County Circuit Court.

Theodore Yeager Newlon was indicted in June 2012 on one count of murder and one count of wanton endangerment after the fatal Feb. 6, 2012 shooting of 69-year-old Dora Lee Newlon in his home..

Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker called upon Dr. Carrie Beth Long of West Virginia University as an expert witness in forensic psychiatry Friday. Long said she reviewed all of Newlon’s medical records and then completed a full forensic evaluation on him to make a recommendation on whether or not he is competent to stand trial.

When Parker asked what she had determined, Long said she found that, based on all evaluations, Newlon showed signs of dementia and personality disorder. However, based on his performance during previous evaluations, Newlon had a “rational, factual understanding” of his circumstances sufficient to proceed to trial, she said.

Wilfong ordered in July 2012 that Newlon be remanded to Sharpe Hospital in Weston after court-appointed neuropsychologist Dr. Bobby Miller made the preliminary finding that Newlon was not competent to stand trial.

Newlon underwent evaluations by four mental health professionals, who testified during an evidentiary hearing in December 2012. Three of the professionals agreed that Newlon was not competent to stand trial at that time, while one said he was competent.

In a hearing in June, Wilfong ruled there was a “substantial likelihood” that Newlon could regain competency, based on the testimony of three of the same mental health

professionals, and

scheduled Friday’s re-evaluation hearing.

On Friday, Newlon’s attorney, James Hawkins, took issue with several points in Long’s findings. Hawkins noted Newlon’s seeming unwillingness to work with him on his case, how Newlon would sometimes go into catatonic states, and how he has difficulty recalling the shooting.

Long replied that there is a precedent of patients having issues with memory when recalling traumatic situations. She also said Newlon showed evidence of competency during her evaluation, but noted patients who suffer from dementia tend to fade in and out of awareness.

“So you are basically saying that competency is a fluid thing?” Hawkins asked Long.

“Yes,” she answered.

Following Long’s testimony, Parker made a motion stating that Newlon had “an adequate understanding to participate in court and was able to work with his attorney and others.” Parker also moved that Newlon’s “unwillingness to participate does not make him incompetent to stand trial,” that his competency status should be restored and that he should remain “in the custody of the Regional Jail Authority.”

Hawkins opposed the motion, saying that previous evaluations performed by equally qualified experts showed that Newlon was not competent.

“She (Long) is basing what she finds on previous reports,” Hawkins added, noting that Long could not come to her conclusion without referring to the previous evaluations.

Wilfong ruled in favor of Parker’s motion, finding Newlon competent to stand trial. A status hearing was set for July 17 with the intent of setting a trial date.

Newlon, who appeared in court Friday wearing all black, showed no emotion during the hearing.

His only verbal interaction with anyone was when he was assited in putting in his hearing aids prior to the start of the hearing.