Since Adacia Chambers drove her car into a crowd at the OSU homecoming parade, the complexities of the case continually evolve. Initially, Chambers was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Now, reports seem to indicate that the young woman was suicidal and suffering from bipolar disorder and a history of mental illness. A forensic psychologist who examined Chambers at the request of her attorney said he believes the woman is mentally incompetent to understand the charges against her or to assist in her defense.
Now, the Payne County Judge who had been presiding over the case recused herself after discovering that she is personally acquainted with a crash victim who is listed as a prosecution witness. Special Judge Katherine E. Thomas said in a court filing, "This court has knowledge of facts which may bear upon issues in dispute during these proceedings. To avoid any question of impartiality, the court finds that ... recusal" is necessary.
The case has been turned over to Logan County Associate District Judge Louis A. Duel. At an arraignment on Monday, the judge ruled in favor of the Payne County District Attorney's request that Chambers be sent to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita to undergo further psychiatric evaluation.
Payne County District Attorney Laura Thomas told the judge, "The state has not agreed that the defendant is not competent at this time," saying that further evaluation is necessary to determine whether or not Chambers is competent to stand trial on charges of second degree murder and assault and battery by means or force as is likely to cause death. She faces four counts of murder after four crash victims died, and 46 counts of assault and battery.
Although the case has garnered much media attention, the judge's further ruling will likely mean little future news about the case's development: all future medical and psychiatric records in the case are to be filed under seal, and he issued a gag order preventing prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the family members of the defendant from discussing the case.
The forensic psychologist who examined Chambers at the request of her attorney said that she is incompetent to stand trial. He said that he believes that she suffers from bipolar disorder I, and that because she is not currently being treated while in jail, she is not capable of understanding the charges against her. According to the psychologist, Chambers understands that she is in jail, but does not understand why. However, he believes that with treatment and medication, the defendant can regain competency to face the charges.
Psychiatrists and psychologists at the Oklahoma Forensic Center will conduct further evaluations at the judge's order. If they determine that she is competent to stand trial, she will be returned to jail to await the resolution of her case. If she is mentally incompetent, she will receive treatment at the facility until competency is restored, at which time she will face the charges against her.
Learn more about mental competency here.
Image Credit: ok.gov/odmhsas