By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, March 25, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- The trial of Helen Garland, the 74-year-old woman accused of beating her sister to death last year, has been pushed back from April to October.
Garland returned to court Monday for a hearing to determine if she is mentally competent to stand trial.
Lawyers for Garland filed a motion last month stating they have doubts whether their client is mentally stable.
Forensic psychologist Helene Presskreischeck, hired by the defense, determined 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 and said Garland must receive better medical care.
No decision was made Monday, and the hearing was postponed until Aug. 15.
At the time, Garland will undergo another competency test. If she is still found to be incompetent, the court may have to evaluate if she should be committed to an institution.
Her lawyers filed the motion for a competency hearing after they met with her in February to discuss the possibility of a plea bargain.
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.
Garland's lawyers are still trying to get her alleged confession thrown out of court.
They say the interrogation techniques used by police were "specifically designed to induce a suspect in confession irrespective of the truth of that confession" and, as a result, they should not be used against their client.
Garland allegedly admitted to police that she was unhappy her sister was living with her and would beat her sister on a regular basis.
A decision on that motion will not be made until after her competency hearing.
Garland was arrested on March 26, after her sister was found dead on an enclosed porch at the home they shared on Philbrook Terrace.
According to an autopsy report, Keyho suffered bruises on her face and chest, bleeding between her brain and skull, and 22 broken ribs.