By Scott E. Kinney, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, March 16, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
HAMPTON -- A Rockingham County judge has ruled a local woman accused of the beating death of her elderly sister is a danger to herself and others.
Helen Garland, of Hampton, is to remain in the custody of the sheriff for the next 90 days to determine if she should be civilly committed. The state must file a petition with probate court if she is to be committed.
The ruling of Judge Patricia Coffey followed a January hearing to determine if Garland should be committed to an institution.
Garland, 76, was charged with first-degree assault and second-degree murder in the 2004 beating of her 85-year-old sister, Alice Keyho. Those charges were dismissed after experts ruled she was incompetent to stand trial.
While expert witnesses agreed at the hearing that Garland has dementia and is incompetent to stand trial, the two did not agree on whether she is dangerous enough to require her committal.
At that time Dr. Albert Druktenis testified he believed Garland is dangerous and that she may have had dementia at the time of the murder. Forensic psychologist Helene Presskreischer, however, said Garland doesn't need to be institutionalized and that her violence was directed at only one person, her sister.
Garland was her sister's caretaker for nearly a decade prior to the older woman's death.
In March 2004, authorities say Garland served Keyho breakfast and lunch, then beat her to death in their home in Hampton. Investigators said her body had been there a couple days and was dragged through the house.
Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie Duval testified that Keyho had 22 broken ribs and was backhanded so hard that imprints of rings that matched the ones Garland was wearing were left on her face and body.