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Keating faces competency hearing

Judge Everett Burton will consider next week Elizabeth Keating’s competency to stand trial for a January office shooting.

Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Judge Everett Burton will consider next week Elizabeth Keating’s competency to stand trial for a January office shooting.

An evaluation is complete and in the court’s hands, defense and state attorneys said.

Mrs. Keating faces attempted murder charges for the alleged Jan. 2 shooting injury of her business partner, Debra Dickens. Mrs. Keating was indicted soon after, and hospitalized for "untreated, undiagnosed psychotic episodes," her defense attorney Mark McCown said.

The defense entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, as well as asked for a competency evaluation, during a Jan. 17 arraignment in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

The court has received the evaluation, and a hearing is set for 10 a.m. Monday before visiting Judge Burton.

"We’ve got the report and it should be a relatively quick hearing," Lawrence County prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. said.

Collier said he could not comment further, because the contents of the evaluation have been sealed.

At the January arraignment, however, the prosecutor argued that Mrs. Keating would be able to stand trial, adding that the state feels it has a strong case.

McCown said the evaluation was sealed after an agreement between the defense and the state, adding he also could not comment on specifics.

"It will address only whether she is currently able to stand trial," he said.

The evaluation and competency hearing does not affect Mrs. Keating’s pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, McCown said.

McCown argued at the January arraignment that a competency evaluation was necessary because Mrs. Keating did not understand why she was in court.

Ironton police officers have been investigating the early-morning shooting Jan. 2, when Mrs, Keating allegedly discharged a .38-caliber revolver at Mrs. Dickens, owner of M&M Realty-Appraisals.

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."