Murder case suspended for mental evaluation
Corey Trott could be forcibly medicated to make him competent to stand trial for a police officer's death
February 26, 2014
Corey Trott, 33, was ordered Tuesday to undergo a mental health evaluation and possible treatment at an eastern Iowa prison before his first-degree murder case can proceed. His attorney said that Trott is delusional and paranoid and won’t speak to him.
The man accused of killing a Rockwell City police officer in a September standoff might be unable to defend himself against a first-degree murder charge because he is paranoid and delusional, a district judge ruled Tuesday.
Corey Trott, 33, of Rockwell City, will undergo psychiatric evaluation and possible treatment - including forced medication, if necessary - at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center, a prison in Oakdale, District Judge Thomas Bice ordered.
Bice suspended the murder case until a state psychiatrist determines whether Trott suffers from a mental disorder that prevents him from assisting in his defense and understanding the court proceedings and charges filed against him.
Charles Kenville, Trott's court-appointed attorney of Fort Dodge, requested the psychiatric evaluation after his client refused to cooperate with a psychiatrist Kenville hired to determine whether Trott is competent to stand trial.
Trott suffers from "a mental health disorder, namely a delusional and paranoid thought process," Kenville said Tuesday in court, citing the psychiatrist's report. "It's preventing him from accepting my counsel."
Trott is accused of shooting and killing Officer Jamie Buenting, 37, during an eight-hour, overnight standoff with Trott in Rockwell City.
Officers had sought to arrest Trott in his house on Sept. 12 for the alleged assault of his 64-year-old mother, but Trott refused to comply. A Webster County tactical response team, including Buenting, surrounded the house.
Attempts to negotiate with Trott failed, and the team decided to enter the house. Buenting was shot in the neck with a rifle about 1:40 a.m. on Sept. 13 as the team, using a long pole, tried to pull down sheets that hung over the windows and blocked the view inside.
Buenting later died at Stewart Memorial Community Hospital in Lake City. He was married with two young children.
Trott surrendered three hours after the shooting and admitted to it when he was questioned by investigators, according to court records.
He has been held in Webster County Jail.
On Tuesday, Trott wore a shaved head and shackles to court. He didn't speak.
Trott has refused to meet with Kenville since Trott asked Judge Bice in a handwritten note in January for a new attorney. Trott accused Kenville of having "preconceived notions about my guilt" and aiding prosecutors.
Bice denied the request.
In February, Trott wrote to the Webster County attorney and "asked that I be arrested and charged with extortion," Kenville said Tuesday but didn't elaborate on the extortion claim.
"He doesn't trust us," Kenville said. "He's paranoid that we're out to sabotage our case."
Scott Brown, an assistant Iowa Attorney General who is prosecuting the case, argued in court that it was wrong to allow Trott to stall the court proceedings by refusing to cooperate.
"You cannot give a defendant that kind of power over whether his case proceeds," Brown said. "He's presumed competent. He has to overcome that presumption."
But Bice opted for "the safe play," he said.
"Let's find out where he's at before we move forward," Bice said of Trott.
Bice ordered Trott transferred to the Oakdale prison as soon as there is room at the facility.
"The state psychiatrist shall provide any medical treatment necessary in order to complete the evaluation, including medications," Bice said Tuesday.
If Bice, based on the psychiatric evaluations, deems Trott incompetent to stand trial, Trott can be treated for up to 18 months under Iowa law to make him competent.
If treatment fails, Trott's murder charge could be dismissed, and prosecutors would likely seek an indefinite civil commitment to continue the psychiatric treatment. The murder charge could be restored if further treatment is successful.
Trott's trial was set for April 21 in Clarion in north-central Iowa, where it was moved due to pre-trial publicity. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
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