Saturday, January 25, 2003

Inmate ruled trial-ready in guard's death

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A prison inmate once sentenced to death in the murder of a guard during the 1993 Lucasville prison riots is competent to stand trial a second time, a judge ruled Friday.

James Were, 46, will be tried on a charge of aggravated murder, accused of participating in the murder of Robert Vallandingham, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Fred J. Cartolano ruled.

In 1995, Mr. Were was sentenced to death in Hamilton County for the murder of Mr. Vallandingham, the only officer killed in the 11-day uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

He is still serving a 15- to 65-year sentence for aggravated robbery and felonious assault.

The Ohio Supreme Court voted 5-2 last year to grant Mr. Were a new trial because he never received a psychiatric evaluation, in part because he refused to submit to one.

Judge Cartolano ordered a psychiatric evaluation before Friday's competency hearing, but Mr. Were again refused to cooperate.

Despite the absence of a psychological report, Judge Cartolano found Mr. Were competent based on past statements and on the many motions Mr. Were has written.


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