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Evidentiary hearing next for Newlon

Kerens man accused of fatally shooting wife

November 15, 2012
By Katie Kuba - Senior Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

The question of whether or not an 81-year-old Kerens man accused of fatally shooting his wife is competent to stand trial will be answered at a special Randolph County Circuit Court hearing in December.

Theodore Yeager Newlon was indicted on one count of murder and one count of wanton endangerment in the fatal Feb. 6 shooting of 69-year-old Dora Lee Newlon in his home.

An evidentiary hearing that will include testimony from all the psychologists who have evaluated Newlon will take place at 9 a.m. Dec. 7, Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong ruled Wednesday in Randolph County Circuit Court.

Wilfong had previously ordered that Newlon be remanded to Sharpe Hospital in Weston until he is found to be competent to stand trial. However, Newlon's attorney, James Hawkins, filed a motion for reconsideration.

Referencing the conclusions of 75 percent of the evaluating psychologists, Hawkins said that there was a "clear preponderance of evidence" suggesting Newlon was not competent to stand trial.

"In the interest of justice, it's only right and reasonable to keep Mr. Newlon where he is," Hawkins said.

Wilfong ruled that an evidentiary hearing was necessary to make a final determination on the issue and said she would hold Hawkins' motion for reconsideration in obeyance pending the results of the hearing.

Also in circuit court Wednesday:

Reed previously pleaded not guilty to one felony count of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, and four misdemeanors - negligent homicide, unlawful taking of a vehicle, unsecured load and petit larceny.

According to previous reports, Reed is accused of causing the Nov. 5, 2011 accident that killed Martha Rose, 63, of Beverly. Police said Reed was allegedly driving a red Dodge Neon hauling a trailer, which was carrying unsecured stolen vehicle rotors. One of the rotors fell off the trailer near Dotson Run Road, smashing through the windshield of a Dodge Caravan and killing Rose on impact.

Jones' attorney, Dwight Hall, asked for alternate sentencing for Jones, noting that an evaluation performed by officials at the Anthony Correctional Center stated that Jones was a low functioning individual with "borderline intelligence at best." Hall said officials had also determined that Jones had low risk for recidivism and argued that Jones' low level of cognitive functioning put him at a high risk to be sexually victimized in prison.

Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker said evaluators had, in fact, assessed Jones as a moderate - not low - risk for recidivism.

"We're talking about an individual who had sex with his underage cousin and showed so remorse whatsoever," Parker said. "These were repeated, willful acts of an individual that are simply disgusting." He recommended the court impose the maximum sentence of 10 to 25 years in the state penitentiary per felony count and that the sentences run consecutively.

Wilfong said she was "particularly disturbed" by the slew of recommendation letters submitted by Jones' family claiming that Jones told them he was innocent.

"I want there to be no mistake when you leave here today about what you did," Wilfong said to Jones. "Your family says there is no way you could have done this. How old was she (the victim) when you started having sex with her?"

Jones said he was unsure.

"You can guess," Wilfong persisted. "What kind of toys did she play with?"

"Barbie dolls," Jones replied.

"When (adult probation officer) Mr. (Jason) Elmore interviewed you, you told him that she, at 7, asked you for sex. Why would a 7-year-old want to have sex with you?" Wilfong said. "It sounds like you had sex with her before she was 12 years old."

Wilfong then read aloud a series letters from Jones' family members, all of which stated they were certain he was innocent. One by one, the judge asked Jones to face each letter writer and tell him or her "what you did."

"I had sex with my cousin," Jones said several times.

Wilfong said the reason she subjected Jones to the questioning was because she did not want his family to think he'd been coerced into entering into a plea agreement.

"I'm not going to have (Jones' family) thinking you've been railroaded into saying you did something you didn't do," Wilfong said. "Are you ready to accept responsibility?"

"Yes," Jones replied.

Wilfong imposed the maximum sentence and ordered that Jones be required to register for life as a sex offender.

Wise pleaded guilty in September to one count of third-degree sexual assault, a charge stemming from his admission that he had sexual intercourse with the 15-year-old female victim when he was 22.

Wise's attorney, Richard Shryock, asked for an alternate sentence, such as specialized probation or home confinement/GPS monitoring. Shryock said Wise has Tourette Syndrome, a factor that has significantly slowed his social development, and asked Wilfong to consider his age and maturity level in her sentencing decision.

"A girl showing interest in Stacy was rare and made him feel good about himself," Shryock said. "Also, the victim stated that she was never forced to do anything and that she didn't want Stacy to get in trouble."

Special prosecuting attorney Gary Morris said he had really struggled with the case - especially since Wise tested positive for drug use two months prior to his sentencing.

"The only thing I can possibly think of that will convince Stacy of what he's up against is some period of time in jail," Morris said.

Wilfong imposed a one-to-five-year sentence, but instructed Shryock to file a motion for reconsideration.

Defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty in a court of law.



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