Accused of Beating Her 85-year-old Sister to Death
By Associated Press
Hampton Union, Friday, June 8, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
BRENTWOOD -- Helen Garland was committed recently to the state psychiatric hospital for the next five years.
Garland, 77, of Hampton was accused of beating her 85-year-old sister to death in 2004. Garland was found incompetent to stand trial in the death of Alice Keyho. She was charged with first-degree assault and second-degree murder, but those charges were dropped after experts testified she could not stand trial because she suffered from dementia.
In March, a Superior Court judge ruled Garland was a danger to herself and others and should be held by the Rockingham County sheriff pending a hearing on a civil psychiatric commitment.
Police and prosecutors claimed Garland beat Keyho in her Hampton home, breaking 22 of Keyho's ribs over several days and allegedly backhanding her hard enough to leave ring imprints on her face, then dragged her sister's body around the house.
Garland had been her sister's caretaker for nearly a decade, giving her a home, doing her shopping, and fixing her meals and snacks.
At the March hearing, Dr. Albert Drukteinis testified for the state that Garland's dementia might have lowered her inhibitions, causing the attacks on her sister and generally making her unable to control her aggressive feelings toward others.
A forensic psychologist testified Garland did not need to be held, because she only posed a danger to one person: her sister.
The civil commitment hearing was held in April in Rockingham County Probate Court. Several witnesses testified she was unable to care for herself and was not aware of her surroundings. Her court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. David Schopick, said she was potentially dangerous to others.
"She enjoyed sharing the story of how she made a threat to the nurse and added a demonstration of her fist held up in front of her and said, 'This one will put you in the hospital, this one is sudden death,'" Schopick said.
Probate Judge Peter Hurd ruled Garland should be committed to the New Hampshire State Hospital for up to five years, when her case will be reviewed.
"Testing in March of 2007 by both Dr. Schopick and Dr. Drukteinis indicates that her current mental condition is deteriorating, such that her behavior remains unpredictable, and she poses a serious likelihood of danger to herself or others," he wrote.