A judge will rule whether a Wayne County man is competent to stand trial in the shooting deaths of his adoptive parents. At a hearing Friday in Wayne County Common Pleas Court, the judge heard testimony from two psychologists. A decision will not be made for at least a month.
A judge will decide whether a Wayne County man is mentally fit to stand trial in the shooting deaths of his adoptive parents.
Rodney R. Stutzman, 33, is accused of killing Mervin Stutzman, 68, and his 65-year-old wife, Viola, in January 2011 at their home, less than two miles west of the Stark County line.
Authorities have said the Stutzmans were shot with a shotgun and that Mervin Stutzman was beheaded following his death. The bodies of Mervin and Viola Stutzman were found in the basement of their home on a 16-acre farm.
Rodney Stutzman has been released from the Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare facility in Columbus and is in the Wayne County Jail pending the judge’s ruling.
Stutzman had been at Twin Valley since the fall of 2011. At a hearing that October, Wayne County Common Pleas Judge Corey Spitler adopted a psychologist’s finding that Stutzman was not capable of understanding legal proceedings and assisting his attorneys. Spitler ordered that Stutzman be sent to the psychiatric hospital. The psychologist had reported that Stutzman could be restored to mental competency with treatment.
Stutzman was indicted on two counts of aggravated murder and single counts of aggravated burglary, grand theft, theft and gross abuse of a corpse. In February 2011, he pleaded not guilty to the charges that could bring the death penalty.
At the competency hearing Friday, Spitler heard testimony from two mental health professionals with differing views on Stutzman’s mental health.
Spitler has asked the prosecutor’s office and the defense to respond with additional legal briefs before making a decision.
After a transcript of the competency hearing is completed, the defense will have 20 days to submit a brief — the prosecutor’s office has 10 days after that to file a brief, said Wayne County Prosecutor Dan Lutz.
Dr. Delaney Smith, the treating psychiatrist at Twin Valley Behavioral Health Care, testified for the prosecution. Smith said she did not find evidence of psychosis, Lutz said Monday. Dr. Bob Stinson, of Twin Valley, also issued a report that said he’s determined Stutzman is competent to stand trial.
A different view came from Dr. Galit Askenazi, who testified that Stutzman still is not mentally fit to stand trial. Askenazi said she is not sure whether he ever will be competent, said defense attorney David Doughten.