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Sentencing postponed for Pa. man accused of attempted homicide and robbery

Attorney for David Dalton Garner requested a continuance based on his mental competency

August 03, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Garner
Garner

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A sentencing hearing for a Chambersburg man accused of trying to kill a former acquaintance and threatening the man's mother with a knife and robbing her was postponed Wednesday.

David Dalton Garner, 24, was scheduled for sentencing Wednesday before Judge Shawn Meyers in the Franklin County (Pa.) Court of Common Pleas. Garner already had entered guilty pleas on charges of attempted homicide and robbery.

Annie Gomez, Garner's defense attorney, requested a sentencing continuance based on Garner's mental competency.

Gomez told Meyers that she found out Wednesday morning that Garner was diagnosed with a mental-health disorder before a Dec. 20, 2010, incident at a home in St. Thomas, Pa.

On that day around 2:30 p.m., Garner went to Micah Eugene McGowan's home and knocked on the door. The two had been friends through grade school, but had not seen each other in a while, police said.

Garner got a drink of water and struck McGowan on the head with a bathroom scale, police said. McGowan was stabbed in the head and tied up, and a plastic bag was placed over his head, police said.

Garner allegedly was choking McGowan and demanding to know where he kept his valuables when McGowan's mother, Mary E. McGowan, came home, police said.

Mary McGowan was threatened with a knife, and her money and credit cards were taken, police said. She was forced to write a check before the intruder left in her 2008 Subaru Outback, police said.

Garner was charged with attempted homicide, four counts of robbery, and two counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, theft and unlawful restraint in connection with the incident.

Gomez said Garner's mental-health disorder never has been treated.

She asked that Garner be evaluated so she could have a better understanding if Garner understood what he was doing when he entered his guilty pleas.

Garner could serve between 15 and 30 years in prison for the attempted homicide and robbery pleas, Gomez said.

Wearing a yellow Franklin County Jail jumpsuit and with his hands and feet cuffed, Garner stood in front of Meyers.

Meyers asked Garner if he had been diagnosed with a mental-health disorder.

"Yes, sir," Garner said.

He said the diagnosis was made sometime last year.

"I have not received treatment at all," Garner said.

Meyers said the court would not provide a professional evaluation without a hearing, which was scheduled for Aug. 15 at 10 a.m., to determine if Garner needs a mental-health evaluation.

Gomez said if the defense proves Garner needs a mental-health evaluation, the court would appoint an expert.

When asked if Garner's plea would change based on his mental-health evaluation, Gomez said that is "something we will have to decide at a later date."

"We're disappointed the sentencing didn't happen today," said Laura Kerstetter, a Franklin County assistant district attorney.

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