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Saturday, June 15, 2019 1:00 am

Experts differ on man's competency

Judge to decide on accused in hammer attack

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A judge could decide next week whether a Fort Wayne man accused of attacking two women last year with a hammer and shooting them is competent to stand trial.

Raymond O. Demby, 52, faces several felony charges including attempted murder in the April 25, 2018, attack that left the women – his ex-girlfriend and her daughter – injured.

Defense attorney William Lebrato has said his client will rely on an insanity defense at trial, and a psychiatrist testified Friday that Demby is not competent to stand trial.

Two psychologists disagreed and testified in Allen Superior Court he is competent and can assist with his defense.

Judge Fran Gull scheduled a status conference June 21, and she could decide then whether to set a trial date or send Demby to a state hospital.

Police said Demby broke into a home in the 4600 block of Spatz Avenue about 4 a.m. He smashed a rear window to get in and attacked a 40-year-old woman and her 18-year-old daughter, investigators said.

The women were shot after they forced Demby onto a porch, according to a probable cause affidavit. He left the home in a Pontiac Aztec and was arrested after crashing it on South Harrison Street, police said.

Psychiatrist Rebecca Mueller spent hours examining Demby in September, after the judge approved a request for competency evaluations. Demby couldn't concentrate and didn't act appropriately, Mueller said.

“He was all over the place,” she said. “He had a lot of difficulty staying engaged. He would just make noises. He would make weird comments.”

Lebrato said working with his client has been difficult. While Demby was calm in court Friday, Lebrato said he was aggressive and unhelpful just a day earlier.

“I can assure you, he cannot assist me,” Lebrato told Gull toward the end of a nearly two-hour hearing in which Demby interrupted at least four times. “He changes the subject and talks about irrational things. He is not competent to stand trial.”

Psychologists Stephen Ross and David Lombard aren't so sure.

Each said Demby is competent to stand trial and testified he likely exaggerated the severity of mental health problems in separate examinations.

Lombard said Demby's answers to written questions indicated severe impairment that would have made it difficult for a face-to-face interview to be completed.

“In the interview, he was cooperative with me,” Lombard said. “His testing showed extraordinary levels of impairment, so those didn't add up.”

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tasha Lee said she believes Demby was “faking it” in the examination with Mueller.

Lebrato insisted Demby has serious mental health issues. Demby has tried to kill himself at least four times, the defense attorney said, including once shortly before the women were attacked.

Gull said she will take the matter under advisement and reexamine reports from Mueller and the psychologists.

mleblanc@jg.net