MEADVILLE — A 45-minute status conference for two accused killers was held in Crawford County Court this morning. A small crowd of family members and close friends wore somber expressions as sheriff’s deputies escorted 20-year-old Ashley Barber and 18-year-old Jade Olmstead before Judge Mark Stevens, to discus a list of pre-trial motions.
Both defendants were granted motions by their attorneys to undergo psychiatric evaluations prior to going to trial. In the case of Barber, the evaluation will be in order to determine competency to stand trial. Olmstead will also undergo a psychiatric evaluation, but in her case, it will only be with regard to her culpability and mental state during the alleged crime. District Attorney Francis Schultz explains the difference.
“When a defendant is requesting psychiatric evaluation regarding competency, they want to find out from a psychiatrist, or they are alleging, that they do not understand the nature and object of the proceedings against them, and they can’t assist in their defense. When you are raising a psychiatric defense at the time of trial, what you are doing is claiming that you didn’t understand what you were doing was wrong, or if you knew what you were doing was wrong, you couldn’t control what you were doing. That’s legal insanity.”
Judge Mark Stevens denied a motion by Olmstead’s attorney to have her transferred from the Crawford County Jail to another facility. He said it’s not his territory to authorize such transfers, but rather it is up to the warden.
In light of the requests for psychiatric evaluations and new evidence being entered into the court, the judge granted an extension for pre-trial proceedings. The women’s trial date was pushed back from January to March, although Judge Stevens said it’s unlikely all parties involved will be able to proceed by then.
Barber are accused in the brutal killing of 20-year-old Boardman, Ohio area woman Brandy Stevens in May of 2012. Police allegedly obtained a confession from the women. The motive appears to be a same-sex love triangle. Earlier, District Attorney Francis Schultz announced he would not seek the death penalty. The first-degree murder charges carry mandatory life sentences.
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