Competency Hearing Is Delayed

By Elizabeth Dinan

Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 1, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

BRENTWOOD -- A hearing to determine whether murder suspect Helen Garland is competent to stand trial was continued Monday with no new date scheduled.

Garland was due to appear in Rockingham County Superior Court for the July 31 review hearing, but at the moment it was scheduled to begin, Judge Patricia Coffey announced the postponement. Coffey said she was waiting for medical reports and urged the court to reschedule as soon as possible.

Garland, 76, was court-ordered to take a prescribed cognitive enhancing medication during a Dec. 21 hearing, when prosecutor Will Delker told the court a six-month course of the medication, Namenda, is necessary before its effectiveness can be measured.

Garland is alleged to have beaten her 85-year-old sister, Alice Keyho, to death in their shared Hampton home.

Court records report Keyho had 22 broken ribs and was beaten from "head to toe," including marks on her body matching two sets of wedding and engagement rings worn by Garland at the time.

Arrested March 26, 2004, on three counts of first-degree assault and a count of first-degree murder, Garland is currently free on bail.

Her defense team alleges her mental capacity is diminished to a point rendering her unable to assist in her defense.

Delker contends Garland is competent, while a pair of psychiatric experts have offered conflicting opinion.