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Warren County jury finds murder defendant Ronnie Ivey incompetent to stand trial

Accused murder defendant Ronnie Lee Ivey was found incompetent to stand trial by a jury during a hearing in Warren County Superior Court on Monday.

A jury of 12 persons was impaneled to hear whether or not Mr. Ivey was competent to stand trial for the slaying of 91-year-old Kurt Louise Waller on Sept. 13. 1986 during Monday's proceeding before Warren County Superior Court Judge Harold Hinesley.

The only evidence presented to the jurors was a psychological report read to them by Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney Dennis C. Sanders. He was assisted in the case by Assistant District Attorney William Doupe'.

After hearing the report, jurors concluded that Mr. Ivey was not mentally competent to stand trial on felony and malice murder charges. However, he must now undergo additional psychological testing through the Georgia Department of Human Resources before it can actually be determined whether he will be standing trial or not. The court is expected to know something more about that after 90 days, according to Warren County Superior Court Clerk Shirley Cheeley.

If it is determined that Mr. Ivey is competent to stand trial after new psychological testing by the state, then a different jury from the one that found him incompetent to stand trial would be selected to hear the case, according to Defense Attorney Jaye Jones, of Thomson.

Mr. Ivey, 21 at the time, was arrested for Ms. Waller's slaying more than 20 years ago. He later pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to prison. He spent 22 years behind bars before learning of a technicality that might set him free.

The technicality turned out to be that Mr. Ivey was never indicted by a grand jury on the charges before first being allowed to enter a guilty plea to the charges against him. Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Roger W. Dunaway, Jr., later vacated Mr. Ivey's sentence. He declared that the court was in no position at the time to accept Mr. Ivey's plea of guilt or to sentence him for such offenses.

The defendant is accused of stabbing Ms. Waller to death.

Web posted on Thursday, April 16, 2009

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