Judge rules Attica woman can stand trial for alleged murder of husband


Judge rules Attica woman can stand trial for alleged murder of husband

ATTICA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A trial revolving around a startling murder in Attica will proceed after a judge ruled Charlene Mess is competent to stand trial for the alleged murder of her spouse.

The murder investigation and subsequent trial have been underway since police uncovered a body under a pile of manure in April of 2015, which they later learned was Doug Mess’ corpse.

Officers immediately arrested Mess’ wife Charlene, charging her with murdering her husband. An unsealed indictment charged her with second degree murder, first degree criminal use of a firearm, first degree assault, second degree assault and tampering with physical evidence — each felonies.

Prosecutors allege Mess shot her husband in the back of the head, along with stabbing him with a pitchfork before burying him in a pile of manure. Soon after hearings began, a judge decided to have Mess evaluated for mental competency after in court, Mess put on what prosecutors called an act, pretending to be unresponsive, rocking back and forth in court and not making eye contact.

Multiple psychologists attempted to evaluate her, during which time she acted similarly, but one psychologist said he was able to crack her defensive shell and interact with her. Further evaluation outside of the courtroom and the doctor’s office led officials to learn she does understand the circumstances surrounding the case.

Officials quoted phone calls Mess made to family members, during which she explained what family member should and should not be appointed to be appointed to her estate. She also made mentions of her time with the psychologists, calling them “shrinks” but showing no signs of being affected by her sessions.

When testifying about her condition, one psychologist said, “I would estimate that somewhere between 60 and 90 percent of the regression [is] exaggeration.”

Presented with that evidence in court, a judge decided Mess has, “sufficient present ability to consult with [her] lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding … and … a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against [her].”

While ruling she is competent to stand trial, the judge did say there is potential that Mess encounters psychological barriers when confronted with the criminal case, but not enough to hinder a trial from moving forward.

 


Source: Buffalo New York’s Latest News
Judge rules Attica woman can stand trial for alleged murder of husband

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