A Holmes County boy who is accused of shooting and killing his mother when he was 10 years old is mentally fit to stand trial, a juvenile judge ruled this week.
A boy accused of killing his mother when he was 10 years old is now mentally fit to stand trial, a Holmes County judge has ruled.
The 25-page ruling issued this week says that Joseph McVay is capable of understanding the legal proceedings and the criminal charge against him.
Authorities say McVay, who is now 12, shot his 46-year-old mother, Deborah L. McVay, in the head with a .22-caliber rifle on Jan. 2, 2011, after a dispute over chores at their home near Big Prairie.
Big Prairie is in Ripley Township, near the Wayne County line.
He is charged with murder as a juvenile. If the charge is proven, McVay could be held in the state youth prison system until he turns 21.
A pretrial hearing will be held at the soonest possible date, Juvenile Court Judge Thomas C. Lee wrote in the ruling.
“Obviously we’re satisfied with the ruling,” said Holmes County Prosecutor Steve Knowling, noting the decision comes two years after McVay was charged in the case. “It is a well reasoned and lengthy opinion by Judge Lee.
“... It was a difficult decision,” Knowling added. “This has been a difficult case for everyone involved.”
Knowling said he expects the trial to take place this spring.
The prosecutor’s office initially had raised the question of whether McVay was competent to stand trial, he said.
Attorneys representing McVay could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
McVay is capable of assisting with his defense, Lee wrote.
“The juvenile has a sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding,” the judge said in the ruling.
In September 2011, the court agreed with a psychologist who said that McVay was not competent to stand trial. However, Lee also had found that a “substantial probability” existed that the boy would become mentally fit to stand trial within one year if treated for anxiety and depression.
McVay underwent treatment from December 2011 through December 2012.
At a hearing in August 2011, two psychologists testified that McVay didn’t meet the legal definition of competence, but they had disagreed on the reasons and on whether McVay could become competent to stand trial within a year.
Late last year, a counselor also had testified in juvenile court that a trial at that point could undo the boy’s progress in coping with the emotional trauma of his mother’s death.
The judge wrote that “taken together the testimony and reports of the three experts do not paint a picture of a young man who is so traumatized by the events surrounding his mother’s death that he cannot talk about the event or assist his counsel.”
The Knox County Children’s Resource Center has reported that McVay has shown continuous and steady progress, the ruling says.
Page 2 of 2 - Citing that and other reasons, Lee wrote that the court “now is unable to find, by a preponderance of evidence, that because of the juvenile’s present mental condition he is incapable of assisting in his defense.”