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Judge rules man unfit to stand trial

Gum accused of killing his father during argument

June 15, 2012
By John Wickline - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

A judge has declared a Lewis County man unfit to stand trial for the slaying of his father in September 2010 during what investigators say was an alcohol-fueled argument at their home.

Lewis County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Keadle ruled that Justin Gum may never be fit to stand trial on the first-degree murder charge he is facing. A Sept. 5 hearing was scheduled to determine if Gum's attorney can show evidence that Gum is not guilty for any other reason of mental illness. Gum is being represented by attorneys James Hawkins and Thomas Prall.

Dr. Abdel Massoud, a psychiatrist at William R. Sharpe Hospital in Weston, testified he believed Gum to be schizophrenic and suffering from multiple addictions. His findings supported the report of West Virginia University forensic psychiatrist Dr. Natalie Wallace. Both experts believe Gum is not faking his conditions, and that he would not be fit to stand trial or even aid his his own defense.

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Massoud said Gum has been reluctant to tell how he feels or what he wants. The doctor said Gum's facial expressions indicate he is scared, and he said Gum has said he hears voices and believes he can read minds. He said diagnosing Gum has been a slow process which has come to a halt.

Hawkins said he will present evidence at the September hearing that there was a lack of premeditation, there was no malice involved in the events of the night of the shooting and that Gum has a diminished capacity.

Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Gary Morris has requested that Gum remain at the mental hospital to allow for civil commitment proceedings.

If Keadle rules that Gum is guilty of first-degree murder, Gum would be under the jurisdiction of the court for the remainder of his life.

Gum would then remain at Sharpe Hospital until a judge decided he was no longer a threat to society. If a second-degree murder charge is determined, Gum would be under the jurisdiction of the court for 40 years.

James Gum was found dead in his home along U.S. 33 West in Camden, the victim of a single shotgun wound to the chest. The two had been arguing prior to the shooting, said Lewis County Sheriff's Deputy Rob Davis. It is not known what the argument was about.

Davis said alcohol appears to have been a factor in the incident. Davis said the shot that killed James Gum appears to have been fired from close range. Davis said no one else was at the residence at the time of the argument. Davis said Justin Gum called 911 after the shooting, and was at the house when deputies arrived.



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