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TRUMBULL COUNTY Mother to stand trial



Published: Wed, September 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The ruling was made about five days after the judge got reports back.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A 27-year-old mother will stand trial in the death of her daughter.

Judge John Stuard ruled Tuesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court that Sherry Delker is able to assist in her own defense.

To be competent, the defendant must understand the charges and be able to aid in the defense. Three mental health experts say Delker does.

She faces a charge of aggravated murder with a specification that the victim was under 13. She has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.

Police say Delker used a vehicle March 29 to run over her daughter, Samantha Martin, 6.

Neither Atty. Anthony Consoldane of the Ohio Public Defender's Commission nor Prosecutor Dennis Watkins could be reached.

Judge Stuard made the ruling about five days after he received reports from mental health experts stating Delker is competent to stand trial.

Interviewed by experts

Judge Stuard said he, the defense and the prosecution each chose an expert to interview Delker. Each one wrote a report to the court.

Dr. Steven J. Zuchowski, a psychiatrist at Case Western Reserve University; Dr. Douglas C. Darnall, a psychologist from Liberty; and Dr. Stanley J. Palumbo, a psychologist from Youngstown, all found Delker competent.

The experts also agreed Delker suffers from a mental illness.

The reports indicate Delker has been treated for schizophrenia and has recently been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Delker also told the experts she was hospitalized for mental illness two years ago.

All three said Delker denies killing her daughter.

Police said Samantha was killed around 8 a.m. on Prospect Street near state Route 46 in Mineral Ridge, next to St. Mary Church.

Scuff marks that could have been made when a body was dragged by a car were found on Prospect Street, and clothes were embedded in the pavement, according to an affidavit prosecutors filed with the court.

Crime lab officers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol also found a tire tread on Samantha's shirt that resembled the tread on the front tires of Delker's 1990 two-door Chevrolet Lumina.

Delker told police she went to the nearby church to ask forgiveness after sending her daughter to a "better place," court documents state.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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