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Attorneys, judge await report on accused cop killer’s mental capacity

Jessica Cuffman • Feb 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Delays in the Kevin Randleman case are frustrating prosecutors and slain police Officer Andrew Dunn’s family members.   

Randleman, facing the death penalty if convicted in the March 19 shooting death of Dunn, appeared before Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone for another pretrial hearing Thursday.

Tone has issued rulings on almost every motion in the case, including 50 filed by defense attorneys Robert Dixon and Jeff Whitacre.

But two outstanding motions — one on future hearing dates and the another to change the location of the trial — are scheduled for oral arguments within 10 days.

A key expert witness for the defense has been suffering medical problems that are delaying the release of a report. That, in turn, is delaying the case, Dixon said Thursday.

The report will reflect the expert’s opinion on an anticipated Atkins hearing, where the court determines if Randleman is mentally incapacitated in any way.

The report’s findings could affect Randleman’s eligibility for execution if he’s found guilty of aggravated murder and receives a death sentence.

The Atkins precedent is established by a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in which judges said the execution of a mentally disabled person violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, according to the Ohio Public Defender’s Office.

There is an increasing national consensus that executing a mentally disabled person is excessive punishment, the Ohio Public Defender’s Office has said. 

On Thursday, Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said he isn’t questioning the validity of the defense expert’s medical problems, but he believes the report should be ready by now.

“(The report) should be a spell-check matter by now,” Baxter said. “We need to know where everyone is in the process.”

Defense attorneys, however, are scrutinizing all details in the case.     

“It’s only one chance to do it right,” Dixon said.

Dunn’s family has expressed to the court their frustrations about the trial being delayed from its original January start date, Tone said. Randleman’s family, too, has expressed similar sentiments.

“Frustration cannot dictate how we proceed on this case,” Tone said. “As much as I’m frustrated by a delay, I have no control over it.”

The next pretrial hearing is set for March 5.

Tone and attorneys said they hope by then to have a better idea of how quickly the case will progress.

Defense attorneys have also said Randleman is suffering medical problems as a result of two gunshot wounds he sustained the night Dunn died. Police say Dunn returned fire before he died, shooting

Randleman twice.  

Randleman has been experiencing pain that interferes with his ability to assist with his trial preparation, including participating in examination by experts, his attorneys said.

A physician has recommended Randleman consult a pain management doctor because a nerve block may be necessary to alleviate the ongoing pain.

On Thursday, Tone ordered deputies to take Randleman from the jail to his scheduled doctor’s appointments as needed.

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