Keating plea expected today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2001

An Ironton woman accused in the Jan.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

An Ironton woman accused in the Jan. 2 alleged shooting and assault of an Ironton real estate agent is expected to enter a plea in the Lawrence County Common Pleas court today.

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Elizabeth A. Keating will likely appear before Judge Richard Walton at 1 p.m. for an arraignment and bond hearing after prosecutors secured a felony indictment Jan. 9 from the Lawrence County Grand Jury.

"She will be there at the hearing," Mrs. Keating’s defense attorney Mark McCown said. "We will enter her pleas and we will be filing a motion for evaluation of competency to stand trial."

McCown said he would most likely be entering a plea of "not guilty" and "not guilty by reason of insanity" at today’s proceeding.

Mrs. Keating was charged with attempted aggravated murder for allegedly discharging a .38-caliber revolver at Debra Dickens, owner of M&M Realty-Appraisals, 407 Railroad St.

Mrs. Keating was arrested at the scene and Ironton police detective Capt. Chris Bowman said police officials "found the suspect inside the business attempting to discard evidence."

He said officials discovered the .38-caliber handgun, which was determined to be the weapon used during the attack, lying just outside a door to the business.

"We did recover six spent cartridges from the crime scene," Bowman said. "As to whether any other shots were fired, we’re still investigating."

Investigators are also still searching for clues as to why Mrs. Keating dressed in her husband’s clothes, parked her car "several blocks" away, walked to the office and hid in the office awaiting Mrs. Dickens’ arrival, he said.

"Financial problems seem to be the motive at this time," Bowman said. "But, we’re certainly not ruling out other possible motives."

During the Jan. 3 arraignment hearing in the Ironton Municipal Court, assistant prosecuting attorney Mack Anderson told the court that she not only discharged the firearm but she also "attempted to beat the victim with the gun and a stapler."

She also tried to pull Mrs. Dickens back in the office – "ripping off her coat and sweater," Anderson said.

McCown said he believes Mrs. Keating’s actions were not premeditated, suggesting the incident might have resulted from instability.

"You have a dedicated Sunday school teacher that has been a loyal friend and business partner for many years," McCown said. "Her collapse and subsequent hospitalization, after the initial appearance (arraignment), obviously indicate that she is suffering from a mental illness."

Mrs. Keating’s public image as compared to the alleged crime doesn’t add up, he said.

She was released from an undisclosed hospital in Portsmouth Tuesday and transported back to the Lawrence County Jail, according to sheriff’s department reports.

"Obviously, we feel there is a very significant question of her competency or we wouldn’t be questioning it," McCown said. "We will enter her pleas and file the motion, the judge will set bond and we’ll go from there."