A judge is expected to decide in the next several weeks if a Scotia man is competent to stand trial on charges that he killed his mother in 2013.
Jeffrey Steele, now 22, appeared in court for the continuation of a hearing Friday.
In all, three doctors have examined Steele, attorneys said.
Two found him to be competent and able to assist in his own defense. The third concluded the opposite, that he would not currently be able to assist in his defense.
Determining whether Steele can proceed to trial will be Schenectady County Court Judge Matthew Sypniewski. On Friday, he heard from the doctor who found Steele unable to assist in his defense.
That doctor found that he was disorganized in his thinking, among other findings. She felt that Steele was at a great disadvantage in understanding what was happening and lacked the capacity to assist in his own defense.
Another doctor testified in May that Steele was competent. The third doctor may testify in July.
The case has been lingering for nearly two years as Steele’s mental health has been monitored and discussed, attorneys said.
He is accused of killing his mother, Theresa Bernard, on July 14, 2013, in their North Ballston Avenue home in Scotia by stabbing her repeatedly with a military-style knife. He was arrested shortly afterward on a single count of second-degree murder.
Police did not indicate at the time what led to the attack, but said there didn’t appear to be a struggle. She was stabbed as she lay in bed.
Officers on patrol found Steele nearby on Washington Avenue as the crime was bring reported at the house. He was covered in blood and carrying a bloody knife, which he refused to drop.
One officer pulled his gun, the other officer his Taser, and Steele was subdued with the Taser.
Bernard was 59 years old, a registered nurse and mother of seven.
If Steele is found competent, the case will proceed, but there would be further mental health issues to sort out prior to a trial, attorneys said.
If he is found not competent, he would be held and continue to receive treatment. His competence would be re-evaluated later.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County