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Judge orders competency evaluation in arson threat trial

Defendant says she will not cooperate with hearing

June 30, 2010|By DON AINES

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- In an unusual move, the state asked Tuesday that a woman charged with threatening to blow up Washington County Hospital undergo an evaluation to determine if she was competent to stand trial.

Pamela Phelps Kimmell, 54, of no fixed address, was in Washington County District Court on two charges of threatening arson, according to court records. She was being held Wednesday at the Washington County Detention Center.

Assistant State's Attorney Leon Debes told District Judge Dana Moylan Wright that the state had concerns about Kimmell's competency to stand trial. Wright noted it was unusual for a request for a competency evaluation to come from the state.

"There are no issues of competency, your honor," said Kimmell, who described her educational and work history to Wright. "I am very competent, your honor, and I am not guilty."

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Wright ordered that Kimmell undergo an evaluation by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, but Kimmell protested.

"I am not going through a competency hearing ... I'm not going to cooperate with that," Kimmell said as she was escorted from the courtroom.

On the morning of April 26, a Community Rescue Service ambulance went to the rear of the REACH building at 140 W. Franklin St. in Hagerstown for a reported medical emergency, according to the application for statement of charges filed by the Hagerstown Police Department. Kimmell was placed in the ambulance and became belligerent, the application said.

On the way to the hospital, Kimmell was given a heat pack due to her exposure to the cold, records show. Told not to place it against bare skin, Kimmell allegedly told the ambulance's medic that "MREs (military Meals Ready to Eat) get hotter and that she would take an MRE and turn it into a bomb and blow up the hospital," records show.

The incident was reported to Hagerstown Police and the Hagerstown Fire Marshal's Office, the application said. Kimmell told a deputy fire marshal that she is homeless, but she uses a Glen Burnie, Md., address, records show.

Kimmell is scheduled for trial in August, according to District Court records.

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