Lawyer says suspect in social worker killing is incompetent

AP News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2016 5:26 PM
Lawyer says suspect in social worker killing is incompetent

BARRE, Vt. (AP) — A woman charged with killing a social worker and three of her own relatives after losing custody of her daughter is incompetent to stand trial, her lawyer says.

Attorney David Sleigh filed a motion this month to dismiss the charges against Jody Herring.

Herring is accused of killing two cousins and an aunt in Berlin and then fatally shooting social worker Lara Sobel outside a state office building in nearby Barre on Aug. 7.

Sleigh's court filing says that, as a result of mental disease or defect, Herring is unable to communicate fruitfully with counsel and is unable to meaningfully help in the preparation and presentation of her defense.

The state plans to oppose the motion to dismiss the charges, Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell said.

Herring, who's from Barre, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the deaths of her cousins Regina Herring and Rhonda Herring, her aunt Julie Falzarano and Sobel.

Authorities say Herring was upset about losing custody of her daughter and believed Sobel had a role in that. Court documents indicate Herring also believed her relatives had reported her to the state's child welfare agency, the Department for Children and Families.

The killings have prompted state lawmakers to consider enhanced penalties for assaulting state child protection workers.