Psychological test ordered in Crow triple-slaying caseBILLINGS, Mont. — A man accused in a triple-slaying on southeastern Montana’s Crow reservation has been ordered by a federal judge to undergo a psychiatric exam that must be completed before his trial can proceed.
By: Matthew Brown, The Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. — A man accused in a triple-slaying on southeastern Montana’s Crow reservation has been ordered by a federal judge to undergo a psychiatric exam that must be completed before his trial can proceed.
Sheldon Bernard Chase, 23, who grew up on North Dakota’s Fort Berthold reservation, is charged with shooting his grandmother, his cousin and her boyfriend in October at the family’s home near Lodge Grass. Chase has pleaded not guilty and remains in federal custody.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr said that the psychiatric exam would be done at an unspecified federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility.
Chase’s trial on three counts of first-degree murder is set for Sept. 10 but has already been delayed once.
Authorities have said Chase suffers from an unspecified mental illness and stopped taking his medications at some point before the shootings.
Prosecutors sought the order for the psychiatric exam in a request to U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull. That came after Chase’s public defense attorneys submitted a psychological evaluation of their client earlier this month.
The evaluation was sealed by the court.
A psychological evaluation would consider a subject’s behaviors during and leading up to a crime. But it would not include the same medical components as a psychiatric test.
Defense attorney David Merchant said it is very difficult to oppose a motion for a psychiatric exam, which he said could be requested by any party at any time.
A deadline set by Cebull for plea agreements in the case passed this week. Merchant said that does not preclude a change of plea at a later date.
Gloria Sarah Goes Ahead Cummins, 80, Levon Driftwood, 21, and Driftwood’s boyfriend Ruben Jefferson, 20, were killed in the shootings at a log home they shared with Chase about 10 miles outside Lodge Grass, a town of about 500 people near the Wyoming border.
An FBI affidavit said a 3-year-old boy who witnessed the shootings saw Chase fighting with his cousin’s boyfriend earlier that day. He was arrested the next day in Spokane, Wash., after a manhunt.