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Man charged in robbery, killing to undergo competency exam

July 03, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

A Hagerstown man charged with killing and robbing an 87-year-old man in June 2002 will not stand trial in Washington County Circuit Court next week as planned after his lawyers asked the court this week to examine his ability to stand trial.

Robert Steven Robinson, 43, of 12463 Gateway Ave., was charged with first-degree murder in the death of John Roy Ward at Ward's Huyett Lane home on June 30, 2002. Robinson also was charged with assault, robbery, burglary and theft related to Ward's death.

Robinson was being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $50,000 bond, according to jail information.

A psychologist's recent evaluation of Robinson led his lawyers to believe he may not be legally competent to stand trial, said Bryon C. Black, one of Robinson's attorneys.

Black filed the psychologist's findings Monday, but the details of the evaluation were sealed Tuesday by a court order signed by Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright.

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According to charging documents filed in Circuit Court, police said Robinson said he had mental problems when he was interviewed in July 2002, that he went to a special school as a child and does not read or write well.

In his order Tuesday, Wright postponed the trial and called for an official competency evaluation for Robinson.

Once that is complete, Black said, a judge will rule on Robinson's ability to understand court proceedings and whether he can assist in his own defense, the two legal standards used to measure competency.

If Robinson is found competent, the criminal process would continue, Black said.

If Robinson is found not competent, he could be re-evaluated later for competency, Black said. Robinson also could be placed in a hospital if a judge determines he poses a danger to society.

There is also a possibility Robinson could be released if he is found not competent and not a danger, Black said.

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