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HOWLAND Mental test sought for Diane Lentine



Published: Wed, May 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defense attorney wants to make sure his client understands the charges.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A defense attorney representing a woman accused of killing her newborn baby said he'd like his client to be evaluated by mental health professionals to determine if she is competent to stand trial.

Anthony Consoldane of the Ohio Public Defender's Commission filed a motion Tuesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court asking for Danielle Lentine to be examined to make sure that she understands charges against her, and to find out if she is capable of assisting in her own defense.

Consoldane said he expects to argue the motion during today's hearing in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay.

Lentine, 29, of Columbus, has pleaded innocent to aggravated murder. She is being held in the county jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond.

What's alleged: Police and prosecutors state that Lentine gave birth to a baby girl in 1998 in her parents' Howland home. Police say that shortly after the birth, Lentine suffocated the child, placed the body in garbage bags and hid the bags in a crawl space.

Lentine's father found the body March 17. Howland police arrested Lentine March 23 in Columbus.

Lentine, who has two boys, has denied the allegations.

What's next: If the judge grants the competency motion, Lentine will be examined by three psychologists, Consoldane said. He noted that he, the court and the county prosecutor's office will each hire an expert to interview and evaluate her. After the evaluations are done, the experts will submit their reports and a hearing will be held, Consoldane said.

If Lentine is found incompetent, the judge will order that she be sent to a mental health facility until she is competent.

Consoldane is also asking the court to prohibit prosecutors from using all oral, written or videotaped statements Lentine gave to law enforcement officials.

Rights issue: Consoldane said that Lentine's constitutional rights were violated because the statements were not voluntarily and she was "unlawfully seized and detained."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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