Defense drops argument suspect in 4 killings is incompetent

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 10, 2017 5:04 PM

BARRE, Vt. (AP) — A lawyer for a Vermont woman charged with killing three relatives and a social worker in 2015 said Friday he will no longer pursue dismissal of the case on the grounds that his client is incompetent because he doesn't have evidence to support that argument.

"I don't have evidence currently that she's incompetent," defense attorney David Sleigh said in a telephone interview.

A hearing on the issue in the murder case against Jody Herring was scheduled for next week. Instead, the next hearing will be Feb. 27 on the status of the case.

Herring, of Barre, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the deaths of social worker Lara Sobel, 48; Herring's cousins Regina Herring, 43, and Rhonda Herring, 48; and her aunt Julie Falzarano, 73.

Police say Herring was upset about losing custody of her 9-year-old daughter and believed Sobel had a role in the custody issue. According to court documents, Herring also believed her relatives had reported her to the state Department for Children and Families.

Sobel was shot outside her workplace in Barre in August 2015 after police say Herring's three relatives were killed.

Herring has been evaluated several times by psychiatrists working on behalf of the defense and the state. She was found incompetent twice by psychiatrists working for the defense, Sleigh said. But he decided to withdraw his motion to dismiss after a third evaluation, he said.

A psychiatrist for the state found Herring competent and prosecutors maintain Herring is fit for trial.