Friday, July 18, 2003

Store assault suspect first faces mental exam

Evaluation will take 6 weeks

By Lori Burling
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A man suspected of assaulting two children in discount stores in West Virginia and Kentucky will undergo a competency evaluation before entering a plea for charges he faces in both states.

Allen Dwayne Coates, 37, of Irvington, appeared sobbing before a judge in Jefferson County District Court on Thursday in an extradition hearing to West Virginia. Coates was arrested a day before in Louisville after FBI officials and local authorities received a tip from a family member.

Coates lives in a mobile home on his father's property in Irvington, about 60 miles southwest of Louisville. He was arrested outside the office of his attorney, who had represented Coates in a case years before.

Coates is accused of assaulting an 11-year-old girl last weekend at the South Charleston store. He faces charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in Kanawha County, W.Va., according to an arrest citation. He faces a charge of first-degree attempted sodomy in Ashland, Ky., where he's accused of trying to assault a girl in a Wal-Mart store.

Coates' attorney, Fred Radolovich of Louisville, says his client, who has a long history of mental illness, is incapable of assisting in his defense.

"We need to have him examined and then proceed. It's critical that he knows what's going on," said Radolovich, who noted that Coates has recollections of being in West Virginia but cannot outline details of the events that took place.

"He's a danger to himself at this point. He's questioning his own actions," Radolovich said.

Judge William P. Ryan agreed with Radolovich, ordering a six-week competency evaluation, delaying Coates' extradition to West Virginia.

Ryan's decision may not delay a transfer to Ashland, where police have filed warrants for Coates to appear before a judge in Boyd County.

"It's up to the commonwealth," said Lt. David Slone, of the Ashland Police Department. "The warrants have been sent to Louisville."

A message left at the office of Boyd County Commonwealth Attorney Stewart Schneider was not returned.

Radolovich said if Coates is transferred to Boyd County, he would again ask for a competency evaluation.

If Coates remains in Jefferson County, he will undergo evaluation at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center, which is part of the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. The facility is an overnight care center, secured by prison guards.

Radolovich said Coates would be treated as an outpatient but remain in the Jefferson County Jail.

Following Coates' court appearance, his attorney described him as "rocky, scared and upset."

"I don't think he could've done this," his father, Bobby Coates, said, leaving the courtroom in tears.

A surveillance video from the Target store on July 12 showed a man stalking a young girl and then walking quickly down an aisle, leading the 11-year-old girl. Coates is accused of ordering the girl to perform oral sex on him while he held a knife, court documents show. Authorities allege he then took her to another area of the store and assaulted her again.

At the Wal-Mart in Kentucky, a 9-year-old girl said she was approached by a man who identified himself as a security guard on July 11. The man patted down the girl; she became suspicious and ran to her mother.

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