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Mental exam ordered in double slaying

March 11, 1998|By DON AINES

Mental exam ordered in double slaying

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A court-appointed psychiatrist will help determine whether a man charged in the deaths of his estranged wife and stepdaughter is competent to stand trial.

Franklin County Judge John Walker ordered a psychiatric examination Tuesday for Albert E. Reid, 49, of Biglerville.

Reid is charged with criminal homicide in the deaths of Carla Reid, 36, and Deidre Moore, 14, at their Sollenberger Road home on Dec. 27, 1996.

During the hearing, Reid asked Walker to appoint a defense psychiatrist other than Dr. Neil Blumberg. The Timonium, Md., psychiatrist was hired by Reid's attorneys to examine him last month.

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Reid told Walker he was unhappy with Blumberg's report, which he said described him as violent. But Walker responded that the report said he was prone to "emotional outbursts."

Walker ordered the report impounded and Public Defender Robert J. Trambley said he could not comment on its specifics without violating the judge's order.

Walker said he would appoint a psychiatrist to examine Reid and that psychiatrists for Reid and the prosecution could be present to observe. No date for the examination was set.

The examination of Reid will be followed by a competency hearing to decide whether he has the capacity to assist in his own defense. If not, Reid could be held for treatment until he is fit to stand trial.

Trambley and co-counsel Stephen D. Kulla have said that Reid has not cooperated with them in preparing the case, which is scheduled to go to trial on April 20.

"This is not an insanity defense," Kulla said Tuesday. He said such a defense would be an admission that Reid committed the crime, but was not mentally responsible for his actions.

"We're prepared to go to trial," Kulla said. He said the question remains whether his client is ready. Reid has said in court he did not kill Reid and her daughter, who were both shot in the head as they slept.

On Feb. 3, Trambley and Kulla went before Walker to inform him that Reid refused to provide them with personal information to help prepare for a possible penalty phase should he be convicted of first-degree murder.

Reid said then he would not reveal information about himself until a verdict was reached. Kulla said there would not be enough time to prepare for the penalty phase, which usually is held the day after a conviction.

If Reid were convicted, the penalty phase would determine whether he would receive the death penalty or a sentence of life in prison.

District Attorney John F. Nelson said after the hearing that the competency issue puts the trial schedule in jeopardy. He said jury selection is set to begin April 13 and subpoenas have been issued for witnesses.

As to Reid's competency, Nelson said, "I haven't seen anything in his court appearances that indicates he didn't know what was going on."

At the time of Carla Reid and Moore's deaths, Albert Reid was awaiting trial on charges that he had molested the girl.

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