By Ed Runyan
Felicia Banks Beemer, charged with raping her 9-month-old daughter, had a 0.0 grade-point average while taking special-education classes at Warren City Schools and had the mental abilities of an 8-year-old, her attorney said Friday.
But one psychologist and one psychiatrist who evaluated her testified she was capable of understanding the criminal charges filed against her and was able to assist in her defense.
A psychologist hired by Banks Beemer’s defense team, meanwhile, disagreed, saying he didn’t think she could adequately assist in her defense.
The testimony was heard Friday by Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. He must decide whether Banks Beemer should be tried on charges that could land her in prison for life. He will rule later.
Banks Beemer, 21, formerly of Warren, is charged with rape and multiple counts of pandering obscenity.
Police said she and her husband, Cody Beemer, 23, made cellphone videos of themselves raping the child while visiting her in April 2011 at the Trumbull County Children Services offices in Reeves Road.
The child had never lived with the couple, having been removed by Children Services just after she was born.
Police charged the Beemers with additional offenses after purportedly finding 532 obscene photographs or depictions in their possession involving a minor.
Her husband pleaded guilty to 10 charges earlier and was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years.
Psychologist Thomas Gazley of Forensic Psychiatric Center in Austintown, who was hired by the court, said Banks Beemer is in the “borderline” range for intelligence as measured by a test of her verbal capabilities, but she is not mentally retarded.
Gazley said he focused his interviews with Banks Beemer on her ability to understand the criminal charges filed against her, the role of the various people involved in a criminal trial and her ability to learn and retain information.
Banks Beemer adequately explained the charges to him, Gazley said, behaved politely and appeared capable of following her attorney’s directions and assisting him during the trial.
During cross-examination by Banks Beemer’s attorney, John Fowler, Gazley agreed that Banks Beemer may well have been a low achiever in school and may function only at a third-grade level but is still capable of assisting in her defense.
Dr. Phillip Resnick, a psychiatrist hired by the prosecutor’s office, said he believes Banks Beemer’s limited attention span would require testimony to be limited to one-hour segments for her benefit.
He acknowledged Banks Beemer has mental limitations, but he said they are not “fatal flaws” that would prevent her from being tried.
Dr. John Fabian, a psychologist and attorney hired by the defense, said Banks Beemer is mildly retarded and not capable of adequately assisting with her defense.