Thursday, February 20, 2003

Ansley now competent to stand trial

Tentative trial date set in professor's shooting case

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - A Butler County judge Wednesday found Tonda Lynn Ansley, 37, competent to stand trial in the shooting death of Miami University professor Sherry Lee Corbett.

Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth made the ruling after a psychologist, Dennis Eshbaugh of Columbus, testified that Ansley, who has been in a mental institution since November, was keeping her mental illness under control by voluntarily taking Risperdal, a strong antipsychotic medication.

Spaeth had ruled in October that Ansley was incompetent to stand trial because two psychologists said she was unable to assist in her own defense. But they suggested she could be restored to competency within a year.

Whether Ansley was insane at the time of the July 27 shooting remains at issue; her court-appointed lawyer, Melynda Cook-Reich, is attempting to proceed with a "not guilty by reason of insanity" defense.

Spaeth ordered three different professionals to conduct mental evaluations of Ansley's sanity by March 25. Spaeth also set a tentative trial date for May 19.

He refused to reduce her $1 million bond, and ordered that she be transferred from a Columbus mental health facility to the Butler County Jail.

Under Spaeth's order, the jail must provide Ansley with her medication and ensure that she takes it.

Court records show Ansley told authorities that she believed Corbett and others were involved in a conspiracy to control her mind and kill her - but Ansley was planning to kill them first. She is accused of shooting Corbett, her landlord, to death in the Dayton Lane Historic District. Ansley faces a sentence of 23 years to life if convicted.

Ansley, who had previously insisted on representing herself, "reported she trusted her attorney" and has acknowledged that a lawyer "has the ability to get more done" than she could, Eshbaugh said in a Feb. 3 report.


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