Curtis ruled competent to stand trial, will appeal
Stan Curtis (right) walks to the U.S. Federal Courthouse on November 14 with his attorney, Scott Cox.
Stan Curtis walking to federal court on October 4, 2013.
Scott Cox listening to a reporter's question after the hearing
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - USA Harvest founder Stan Curtis will appeal a federal magistrate's ruling that he is competent to stand trial on charges that he stole, misused and failed to pay taxes on thousands of his charity's dollars.
"You have to be able to understand the charges, the consequences, understand what you did," said defense attorney Scott Cox. "He's not there."
But a psychiatrist's findings indicate that Curtis is. Federal Magistrate Dave Whalin cited a "re-examination" that the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center's Dr. Amy Trivette conducted in September. The exam came shortly after WAVE 3 News cameras recorded Curtis walking comfortably, appearing to suffer little, at least outwardly, from colon and kidney ailments that prompted dialysis and colostomy treatments.
Dr. Trivette's first exam, conducted in May, concluded that Curtis was "marginally incompetent;" unable to understand the charges he faces, or their potential consequences.
By contrast, the re-examination found Curtis able to identify sources who could provide specifics about his case, and he grasped specifics of a similar, but hypothetical case.
"He's solidly competent," Dr. Trivette testified November 8. Her conclusions differed sharply from those of psychiatrist Dr. Walter Butler, who testified that Curtis' health problems have left him with a form of dementia.
She (Dr. Trivette) is trying to predict what it would be like for me to meet with him," Cox told reporters following the hearing.
"Maybe he'll recover from the dementia. I'm not a doctor, but I've never heard of that happening. I've met with him. And he's not able to go forward."
Six days earlier, however, Cox had said Curtis had signed off on a plea deal that would have put him in prison for little more than two-and-one-half years. Conviction on all charges could bring a maximum sentence of 52 years.
"The state doesn't have any objection to our plea deal, and it wouldn't matter if they did," Cox said. "He doesn't even know what a plea agreement is now."
Curtis has 14 calendar days to appeal Whalin's ruling to U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley. The filing of an appeal would set in motion a series of filings which could mean Curtis may spend Christmas and New Year's Day not knowing whether he will face trial next year.
"We're all frustrated by this," Cox said. "(Curtis) would get up and guess at the right answer if it were a question of him trying to get this over with. But I'm not going to be a party to that."