Hearing held, decision delayed on Curtis' mental competency - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Hearing held, decision delayed on Curtis' mental competency

Stan Curtis Stan Curtis

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - State and defense psychiatrists agree: USA Harvest founder Stan Curtis has had anything but a walk in the park since September 2012, when a federal indictment accused him of stealing money from the food charity and failing to pay taxes on it.

Neither denies that a series of stomach, bowel and kidney ailments left him with brain damage or cognitive impairment. But they differed markedly when they testified before Magistrate Dave Whalin is U.S. District Court Friday morning, as to whether the damage is permanent, or severe enough, to continue to make him unfit to stand trial.

Physically, he's quite a bit better, Curtis' attorney, Scott Cox told reporters afterward. "He can walk on a treadmill for about 10 minutes. He can walk the dog."

Curtis appeared disoriented and distracted as he entered the courtroom and departed the courthouse. But two months ago, WAVE 3 News Reporter John Boel aired exclusive footage of Curtis on extended walks at a brisk pace, appearing to show few effects of the ailments that required kidney dialysis and a colostomy bag.

The stories appeared shortly before state psychiatrist Dr. Amy Trivette re-evaluated Curtis and concluded that he'd made substantial progress compared to his earlier exam back in May.

"He has a reasonable understanding of basic aspects of a courtroom," Trivette told the Court Friday.

"He might need some more prompting and education as a result of his problems, but it's not a close call.

He's solidly competent to assist in his defense."

But defense psychiatrist Dr. Walter Butler asserted that Curtis suffers from a form of dementia that's not going to get better.

"He didn't even remember the charges (when asked)," Butler testified. "He can't remember facts or dates in context. He can repeat, but he can't explain."

Curtis may petition to plead guilty if Judge Whalin determines he's competent for trial, Cox said afterward.

"He would be willing to accept a deal that would include 27 months in prison and some form of restitution, Cox explained. Curtis faces seven counts of mail fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns. Collectively, convictions could bring more than 52 years in prison and fines of more than $1 million.

"But you can't even plead guilty unless it's a voluntary and a knowing plea, and a knowing plea means you understand the charges against you. You understand the elements  of the offenses and so forth and I don't think he has that ability."

Judge Whalin has delayed a ruling on competency until he reviews Curtis medical records. He'll issue his ruling Thursday, November  14.

Curtis will likely be in some form of federal custody, whatever the decision, Cox said.

"Statues require sending him to a federal medical facility, and try to get him competent," Cox said. "And he could stay there up to four months and he would have to come back, for another hearing, depending on what their physicians found."

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