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Woman ruled incompetent to stand trial in husband's slaying

October 27, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A woman accused of shooting her estranged husband to death in September 2007 has been found not competent to stand trial -- at least for now.

The trial for Maria L. Decicio-Smith of Martinsburg that was scheduled to begin today was postponed on Monday in a competency hearing before 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

Decicio-Smith, 37, was found to have serious depression, an anxiety condition and other factors, which now inhibit her from assisting her attorney in her trial, Wilkes and Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely said.

The judge remanded Decicio-Smith to William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston, W.Va., for treatment in the acute care psychiatric facility's restoring competency program. There, her competency will be monitored for improvement as she receives treatment, Games-Neely said.

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A status hearing was scheduled for Nov. 16. It is not clear when Decicio-Smith will be transported by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department to the hospital for treatment because she is due to have surgery this week, according to her attorney, B. Craig Manford and Games-Neely.

Decicio-Smith was indicted in May 2008 on one count of first-degree murder. Police allege she shot Richard E. Amundson five times. He was found face down in the basement of Decicio-Smith's home at 210 Gussie Ave. with a rotisserie fork near his left hand, police have said.

While at least found temporarily incompetent, Decicio-Smith also was deemed to be criminally responsible, meaning that she was capable of forming intent at the time of the shooting, Games-Neely explained after the hearing.

The evaluations, completed by Ralph S. Smith Jr. and Rosemary L. Smith of Charleston, W.Va., were requested by the state, Games-Neely said.

After the shooting, police found Decicio-Smith sobbing and murmuring to herself in the living room, investigators have said. She was pointing a revolver, with the hammer cocked, to the side of her head and staring straight ahead.

Wilkes ruled in December 2007 that it appeared Decicio-Smith was attempting to avoid her estranged husband when she moved from Casper, Wyo., to Berkeley County, closer to where family members reside and allowed her the opportunity to be on home confinement pending trial.

Decicio-Smith has been on home confinement since January 2008.

Decicio-Smith's trial has been rescheduled multiple times since she was arraigned in circuit court.

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