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Grandmother ruled unfit to stand trial



Published: Sat, April 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state wants Mildred Battles, who is accused of stabbing her granddaughter last year, placed in a mental hospital.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mildred Battles, 75, is still mentally incompetent to stand trial in the stabbing of her granddaughter.

At a status hearing Friday, an evaluation was presented to Judge Maureen A. Cronin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that showed Battles, of Westchester Drive, Austintown, still cannot assist her attorney, Paul Scarsella, in her defense on charges of attempted murder and felonious assault.

Judge Cronin ruled in May 2004 that Battles was incompetent.

The latest evaluation in April from a psychiatrist at Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare System in Cleveland, where Battles is under treatment, said she remains incompetent.

Scarsella told the judge, however, that Battles insists there's nothing wrong with her. He added that he still has difficulty explaining legal procedures to her.

Judge Cronin ordered her to be taken back to Northcoast.

Knife attack

A county grand jury indicted Battles in March 2004. Austintown police said she stabbed her 7-year-old granddaughter on Feb. 6, 2004.

Police found the girl in the Westchester Drive apartment she shared with her mother and Battles. The child had three stab wounds to her chest. Police found a blood-stained knife sticking out of a stuffed animal in her bedroom.

The child was hospitalized but has recovered.

If Battles is eventually restored to competency through treatment, she can be tried on the charges.

But the state has only 10 years by law to hold her on those charges, said Dawn Krueger, an assistant county prosecutor.

"We're seeking commitment to a mental hospital for her for 10 years. She will be reviewed by the court [on her competency] every two years," Krueger said.

If Battles is eventually tried and convicted, she could be sentenced up to 18 years in prison. If she is not restored to competency during the 10-year period, the court could release her to a mental hospital, Krueger said.




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