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Front Page » February 4, 2010 » Breaking News » Court says Sharp not competent at present time
Published 1,779 days ago

Court says Sharp not competent at present time


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Peter Simon Sharp appeared in court on Feb. 2, before Judge George M. Harmond. Sharp has been held in the Emery County Detention Center since Oct. 21, 2009 in connection with the shooting death of his parents, William and Charmaine Sharp in Castle Dale.

Judge Harmond inquired of the defense and the state to see if they had received copies of the reports concerning the defendants mental state. They responded they have a copy of the reports. The court entered the findings and conclusions of the reports. Judge Harmond said he has reviewed the reports and the reports indicate the defendant suffers from a mental disorder, the type of disorder that cannot be determined without further testing of the defendant.

"The court, having reviewed the reports of Dr. Eric Nielsen and Dr. Richard Wooten and having heard from counsel for the defendant and for the state now enters the following findings of fact, conclusions of law and order concerning the defendant's competency to stand trial," stated Harmond. "The court finds that the defendant is currently suffering from a mental disorder, although the precise nature of his illness has not been determined. Possible diagnoses include, but are not limited to catatonic schizophrenia, psychotic disorder not otherwise specified, intermittent explosive disorder, cognitive disorder NOS, schizo-typical personality disorder and borderline intellectual functioning. As to the defendant's present capacity to comprehend and appreciate the charges or allegations against him, the court finds that the defendant cannot do so. He seems vaguely aware of the charges but has no specific understanding."

Harmond also pointed out that the defendant's present capacity to disclose to counsel pertinent facts, events and states of mind has been deficient. He also said that while the defendant may be able to comprehend incarceration, "he does not comprehend the range of sentencing options" that could available to he court.

"As to the defendant's present capacity to engage in reasoned choice of legal strategies and options, the court finds the defendant cannot do so," said Harmond. "He withdraws when questioned about the facts of the case, and his thinking processes are significantly disorganized, which would make it impossible to make rational decisions about the management of his case."

Harmond also noted that the defendant has no clear understanding of what the roles of courtroom personnel are nor could he understand the adversarial nature of the proceedings that could take place against him. In conjunction with that he also cannot fully appreciate his attorneys role in the case either. He also said in general that the defendant, in his present state of mind would not be able to pay attention to or comprehend any courtroom proceedings. He also said that the defendents thought disorders would make his ability to testify in the case nearly impossible.

"Based upon the foregoing findings of fact, the court concludes by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant is currently incompetent to stand trial," stated Harmond. "He does not have a rational understanding of the punishment specified for the offenses charged and such mental disorder results in the defendant's inability to consult with counsel and to participate in the proceedings against him with a reasonable degree of rational understanding."

Harmond ordered that the defendant be committed to the custody of the Department of Human Services for the purpose of treatment intended to restore his competency to stand trial. He also ordered that reports be referred back to the court by the examiners within 90 days as to Sharp's status. Harmond said that the prosecutor and defense needed to give those that will be treating Sharp any information or materials relevant to the defendant's competency that they may have in their possession. The prosecutor shall also provide copies of the charging document and supporting affidavits or other documents used in the determination of probable cause, arrest or incident reports prepared by law enforcement agencies pertaining to the charged offense and information concerning the defendant's known criminal history.

"The defendant is to be placed in a secure setting rather than a non-secure setting during the period of his commitment for treatment to restore competency," said Harmond.

The defendant will be transferred to the Utah State Hospital. A review hearing of the treatment and assessment is scheduled for June 1.

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