Editor's Note: This story has been updated on July 16, changing the word "hearing" to "evaluation" in the first sentence.
The first-degree murder trial for Jeffrey Wade Chapman was put on hold Monday, pending a mental competency evaluation at Larned State Hospital. Chapman has reportedly been hallucinating since learning he is housed in a cell where another prisoner committed suicide.
Chapman is charged with killing 25-year-old Damon Galyardt, whose body was discovered by hunters on land southwest of Great Bend on Nov. 12, 2011. He is being held at the Barton County Jail.
A hearing was held Monday on the first floor of the Barton County Courthouse, where District Judge Ron Svaty ruled on the defense’s request for the evaluation.
“There had been reports of (Chapman) hallucinating,” said Lisa Taylor, public information officer for the Kansas Judicial Office. Taylor said Svaty ruled that Chapman should be evaluated for competency because of reports from the sheriff’s office of his hallucinations.
However, there are no openings at LSH at this time. Once there is an opening, which is expected to take 30-45 days, an evaluation will take another 30-45 days. No new trial date can be set until Chapman is ruled competent to participate in the proceedings, she said.
According to the defense’s motion seeking the evaluation, “Jeffrey Wade Chapman is in the same cell where he had previously discovered an inmate suicide. ... Said placement has undermined Mr. Chapman’s mental health, over time, to the point that a competency determination must be made.”
Svaty ruled the proceedings in Chapman’s case are suspended until an evaluation at LSH determines if he is able to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings, and whether he can assist in his defense.
“If after evaluation Mr. Chapman is determined competent,” the defense motion states, “council requests an order mandating placement in a cell other than the one where the defendant discovered the suicide.”