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Request for psychiatric evaluation delays jury selection in murder trial

June 10, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Marcus Wallace
Marcus Wallace

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Newly filed court documents reveal that a request for an emergency psychiatric evaluation halted jury selection last week in a Franklin County, Pa., capital murder trial for a man accused of killing his mother.

Defendant Marcus Wallace’s attorneys expressed concerns about his thought processes and perceptions, asking the judge for the evaluation, according to court documents.

That evaluation is scheduled for Thursday.

Wallace, 42, is charged with first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the beating death of his 70-year-old mother, Consuella Wallace. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

In a court order filed late last week, Senior Judge John C. Uhler wrote that local psychiatrists contacted for the evaluation indicated they were not available or were not willing to do the evaluation.

The judge then contacted Bala Cynwyd, Pa.,-based Clarence Watson, who previously conducted a video-recorded evaluation of Wallace. Watson is expected to do the next evaluation in person.

Uhler wrote that Watson should serve as an independent evaluator to further determine the defendant’s continued competency and capacity to assist in his defense.

Wallace’s three-week trial was scheduled to start on Friday.

On the first afternoon of jury selection, Wallace often appeared close to falling asleep. He was wearing a blue wristband that resembled the type used in hospitals.

Defense attorneys said that on two occasions the next day, Wallace’s perceptions and thought processes were negatively impacting attorney-client communications, the judge wrote in the court order authorizing the psychiatric evaluation.

In October 2012, Judge Richard Walsh, who has since retired, found Wallace competent to stand trial.

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