Date Change For Garland

By Elizabeth Dinan

Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 16, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Helen Garland confers with her lawyer Monday morning.
[Photo by Amy Root-Donle]

BRENTWOOD -- A competency hearing to determine if a 75-year-old Hampton woman is fit to stand trial on allegations of beating her elderly sister to death has been rescheduled to Aug. 30.

Helen Garland appeared in Rockingham County Superior Court on Monday, a date originally set by the court to hear arguments about her mental state. But after a delayed start, Judge Patricia Coffey rescheduled the hearing.

Prosecutor Will Delker of the state attorney general's office would not disclose the reason for the postponement.

"I can't discuss it," he said.

Judge Coffey said several witnesses are expected to testify during the competency hearing, which is expected to last a full day. Last year the court approved the expenditure of $2,250 to compensate Dr. Helene Presskreischer for conducting a "complete evaluation" of Garland.

"Our position is that she is competent," said Delker.

If Garland is found to be incompetent, she will likely be committed to an institution, said Delker. If found to be competent, the court will conduct a motion to suppress evidence hearing, as requested by Garland's attorneys, Dorothy Graham and Barbara Keshen.

That hearing would be followed by a murder trial.

Garland is alleged to have beaten Alice Keyho, 84, to death in the Hampton home they shared. She was arrested March 26, 2004, on three counts of first-degree assault and a count of first-degree murder. Garland pleaded not guilty on June 30, 2004.

Prosecutors expect to prove, through forensic and autopsy evidence, that Keyho was dead for two days before Garland called police.

Court records state that Keyho was bruised from head to toe, had 22 broken ribs, a brain injury and numerous lacerations, including ring marks from the two wedding rings and two engagement rings her sister wore at the time.

When she appeared in court Monday, Garland was not wearing the rings