By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 9, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- A hearing scheduled at Rockingham County Superior Court on Aug. 15 could determine whether Helen Garland, accused of beating her 77-year-old sister to death last year, is competent to stand trial.
In preparation for that hearing, Assistant Attorney General Will Delker requested a court order for Garland to hand over all her medical records.
Initially, Garland's attorneys refused the state's request because they said their client is not competent enough to sign a waiver to do so.
However, they did not object to the court ordering her to release them, which a judge did two weeks ago.
The hearing scheduled for Aug. 15 is a continuance of one that was held in March.
At that hearing, forensic psychologist Helene Presskreischeck, hired by the defense, said Garland's medical ailments are affecting her competency.
Garland is suffering from diabetes and insomnia.
The state also hired a doctor, who agreed with Presskreischeck's assessment.
Both the state and the defense agreed to continue the hearing to Aug. 15 see if her condition improved. The state also ordered Garland to be under a doctor's care and to take any prescribed medication as part of a condition to be out on bail.
Garland's attorneys, Barbara Keshen and Dorothy Graham, got the ball rolling on a competency hearing after they met with her in early February to discuss the possibility of a plea bargain.
According to court documents filed by her attorneys, Garland was extremely unfocused at the meeting and was unable to comprehend the evidence against her.
If Garland is still found to be incompetent, the court might have to evaluate whether she should be committed to an institution.
Garland is charged with second-degree homicide and several assaults allegedly involving punches and kicks, which led to the death of her sister, Alice Keyho.
If convicted, Garland could face the rest of her life in prison.