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Keating pleads insanity

A plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity was entered Wednesday in the Jan.

Thursday, January 18, 2001

A plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity was entered Wednesday in the Jan. 2 alleged shooting and assault of Ironton real estate agent Debra Dickens in the Lawrence County Common Pleas court.

Elizabeth A. Keating appeared before Judge Richard Walton for an arraignment and bond hearing after prosecutors secured a felony indictment Jan. 9 from a Lawrence County Grand Jury.

Mrs. Keating appeared in the court and a $500,000 cash bond was set.

Her defense attorney, Mark McCown, filed a "suggestion of competency" motion with the court asking that a court-arranged evaluation be set to determine if she is competent enough to stand trial.

"Mrs. Keating does not understand that she’s being held here or the reason she is in front of this court," McCown told the judge.

Judge Walton quizzed Mrs. Keating on her name, age, date of birth, schooling and if she knew why she was in court.

In a frail voice, she answered all of the judge’s questions except for the reason she was in court, to which she replied "I’m not sure."

McCown suggested to the court that his client was "incompetent to stand trial."

"Mrs. Keating has been diagnosed with a bipolar affective disorder with depression and psychotic tendencies," McCown said. "She has been an outstanding citizen in this community for her entire life. She is a faithful church-goer and Sunday school teacher."

He asked that a low bond be set to put her in a private facility for treatment of her mental illness.

Lawrence County prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. rebutted, asking for "no bond or an extremely high bond be set."

"She is being charged with attempted aggravated murder with a gun specification," Collier told the judge in defense for a high bond.

He informed the court that other charges are pending in connection to "certain financial misconduct."

"With all do respect to both counsels, that doesn’t have anything to do with this case," Judge Walton told Collier.

The court agreed to arrange for a competency evaluation at the Shawnee Forensic Center.

Judge Walton said the facility would have 30 days by state law to determine Mrs. Keating’s competency.

"But, they will do it quickly," the judge said. "They are a top notch organization. We will have a hearing within 10 days of their filing back the results of the evaluation."

McCown said after the hearing that getting treatment for Mrs. Keating was his main priority.

"She has had untreated, undiagnosed psychotic episodes for some time now," he said. "Based on her undiagnosed, untreated mental illness, I think it’s quite clear this has been going on for some time and she was unaware of it as anybody would be."

He said her discharge from an undisclosed hospital in Portsmouth had "nothing to do with her current mental illness."

Collier said he believes she is competent to stand trial.

"We were aware they of the pleas they entered," he said. "It’s inappropriate for me to talk about our case at this point, but we have evidence that she is competent. We feel we have a strong case and we want to pursue it."