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Indiana, PA: Mentally Ill Man Charged With Beating His Mother to Death Has Slim Chance of Being Deemed Competent For Trial

April 18, 2017

Todd Walters, an Indiana, PA resident, is charged with one count each of criminal homicide and aggravated assault in the Feb. 20, 2015, death of Shirey Walters, a former dean at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in their home along Diamond Avenue in Indiana.

 

Dr. Clarence Watson, J.D., M.D., a forensic psychiatrist, testified that Todd Walters, 38 years of age, has severe paranoid schizophrenia and has believed for two years that his mother, Ruth Shirey, is still alive and taking part in a conspiracy against him.

 

President Judge William Martin in the Common Pleas Court of Indiana County denied the dismissal of the criminal charges in the case but said he would reconvene in a years time to consider defense Attorney Leonard Ambrose’s request to divert Walters to a less secure mental health facility and civil, rather than criminal, commitment under the state’s Mental Health Procedures Act. If Walters still exhibits his delusional belief systems at that time, it is likely that the criminal charges will be dropped. 

 

Attorney Ambrose had Walters on the stand for two hours as he examined him on his delusional belief systems, ranging from voices speaking to him through electrical devices and telling him that he is being tested by the Government in order to join "military special ops" teams to the belief that his mother is still alive and part of a conspiracy to frame him for her murder. 

 

At one point, Ambrose confronted Walters with a series of letters he sent to him. All of which showed just how delusional his belief system had become, as he was asking for Attorney Ambrose to get a private investigator to search for his mother just 18 days after the State deemed him "in remission." 

 

Ambrose also played a risky hand by playing in to Walters' beliefs, sending him a letter asking how he should go about finding his mother and just what exactly he thinks she is doing. Walters' response was matter-of-fact, stating that he'd hope a hot shot Attorney would know how to find someone.

 

In fact, Walters recently filed a complaint to the disciplinary board against Ambrose for refusing to attempt to find his mother which was quickly dismissed. 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the hearing, the judge sided with Dr. Watson and Attorney Ambrose, deciding that Walters is in no condition to stand trial. A year from now, the criminal charges could be dropped and Walters could be getting the treatment he so desperately needs in a better facility through a civil commitment. 

 

 

For more information, check out this article in the Indiana Gazette by Chauncey Ross.

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