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Judge orders mental review for W.Va. suspects

February 26, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An Arkansas judge ordered mental evaluations for two Eastern Panhandle brothers charged in the slaying of a truck driver in Arkansas last month, according to a court official.

Conway County Circuit Court Judge Paul Daniels agreed with a request from the brothers' defense attorney to seek the evaluations in order to determine whether the men are mentally capable to stand trial, said Circuit Court Clerk Carolyn Gadberry.

The judge's order came during a probable cause hearing for Alan Chauncey and Richard Francis Barr in the Conway County Courthouse in Morrilton, Ark.

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After the judge ordered the mental evaluation, the probable cause hearing was suspended, Gadberry said.

Chauncey, 28, of Ranson, W.Va., and Barr, 20, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., are expected to be sent to the Arkansas State Hospital in Little Rock for their evaluations, Gadberry said.

The brothers were arraigned on a captial murder charge two weeks ago in the shooting death of truck driver Arthur Joe Cotton, court officials said. At that time, they had already been charged in an attack on two women and their mother in the nearby town of Conway, Ark., which is located just north of Little Rock, according to police.

According to Arkansas authorities, Cotton was on his way home from Tulsa, Okla., on Jan. 30 when he pulled over at a rest stop along Interstate 40 near Morrilton. Two men allegedly approached Cotton and asked him for money.

Police went to the rest area on the evening of Jan. 30 after receiving a call that a body had been found in one of the men's restroom stalls, according to court records.

Investigators determined that the man had been shot once in the left temple, court records said.

When Chauncey and Barr were arraigned on the capital murder charges, Prosecutor Jerry Don Ramey requested the death penalty should Barr and Chauncey be convicted. The death penalty issue was not discussed Wednesday as had been expected, said Gadberry.

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