Padia on cusp of competency ruling
Three forensic psychologists who have evaluated Anthony Padia, a New Castle man facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of his father, have testified about their findings. Two of the three say he’s incompetent to proceed in court.
The psychologists testified during a competency hearing April 7, and attorneys gave their closing arguments on the issue Wednesday.
Questions about his competency arose immediately after he was arrested in December 2014. Padia’s father was found dead in his bed one morning. Family members reported that Padia and his father had been drinking and fought the night before — Padia choking his father at one point.
Since then he’s undergone three different competency evaluations: the first deemed him incompetent, the second evaluator thought it is possible to make him competent and the third also said he is incompetent.
All three psychologists diagnosed Padia as intellectually disabled. But that alone doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is incompetent, said Assistant District Attorney Anne Norrdin.
Public Defender Tina Fang said Padia was in special education programs since preschool. He didn’t walk upright until late into his toddler years and didn’t talk until he was 10 years old. All of these elements are indicative of a developmental disability, one psychologist testified.
Even now he scores around a first- or second-grade level on standardized intelligence tests, said Fang.
On another intelligence test he scores in the bottom 1 percent of his peer group, she said.
In his bedroom at home, investigators found a tarp on the floor in case he was incontinent, and there was a bucket in the corner with what appeared to contain urine, said Fang.
One inmate at the jail even called the defense team because he was concerned about Padia’s ability to care for himself, said Fang. He said Padia had been incontinent and the inmate had seen blood and feces on the walls of Padia’s cell.
During other court proceedings he would laugh loudly, or fall asleep and snore as the judge was addressing his case, said Fang.
He has no ability to confer with his lawyers or contribute to his own defense, she said. “He simply doesn’t know who we are at times.”
It’s clear he has no appreciation of why he’s in court or what the state is trying to do, she said.
Attorneys argued over the psychologists’ methods. Dr. Carl Redick, who found Padia competent, used standardized competency and intelligence tests, while the other two relied more upon free association and what Norrdin called a “gut feeling” judgment.
Redick said the defense team and court could conduct the proceedings in a way that Padia would understand and such that he would be able to contribute to his own defense. However, Redick said the defense attorneys would likely have to orient Padia to the courtroom each time a court proceeding begins, repeat information frequently and constantly assess whether he is paying attention or not.
Fang asked Judge James Boyd to make a finding that Padia’s intellectual disability is likely permanent, which the psychologists agreed upon. But the judge declined to make a ruling, saying that finding was outside the purpose of the hearing.
Padia will next be in district court on April 27, by which time Boyd is expected to have issued a written order on competency or make a ruling from the bench.