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Ability to stand trial still at issue

Another competency hearing for capital murder defendant James Lloyd Terry may be on the horizon, after it was revealed in a Tuesday hearing in Halifax County Circuit Court that Central State evaluators have sent a report detailing their examination of Terry.

Terry has been held at Central State since last October, when Halifax County Circuit Court Judge Joel Cunningham ruled Terry incompetent to stand trial in the April 2011 murder of 84-year-old Charlotte Osborne Rice.

Petra Haskins, one of a team of special prosecutors appointed to the case, said Thursday Central State has sent a report to the court indicating their findings.

“We’re trying to set a date to have a competency hearing,” Haskins said.

“The way the process works, the court asks Central State to do the restoration, because he was declared incompetent by the court,” Haskins said.

“The court ruling there says if at any time [Central State] believes he’s competent they’re to notify the court.

“The evaluators at Central State have sent a report to the court indicating their findings, so we are trying to set a date for a competency hearing.

“That will be where the determination will be made if he is competent enough to stand trial or not,” she said.

“Central State can’t make that legal finding. They can make their own conclusions but not a legal finding,” emphasized Haskins.

The prosecution had hoped to set a date for the competency hearing at Tuesday’s hearing, but there are motions on both sides that need to be considered before that can happen, according to Haskins.

Those motions regard which experts would be able to testify and the scope of their testimony.

Judge Joel Cunningham had ruled Terry incompetent to stand trial in the capital murder case of Rice after a day-long competency hearing in Halifax County Circuit Court in October.

At that time, Cunningham ordered the appropriate state agency to take charge of Terry in an effort to restore the defendant’s competency to stand trial.

Terry, a Halifax resident, is facing seven charges in connection with the death of 84-year-old Charlotte Osborne Rice, according to court records, including two for capital murder during rape, two for object sexual penetration and one each for capital murder in the commission of robbery, burglary and robbery.

Terry was arrested after the body of Rice was discovered in her North Main Street home when authorities responded to a report of a possible breaking and entering.

Acting on a 911 call from a neighbor, police arrived at Rice’s residence where they apprehended Terry following a foot pursuit through yards adjacent to Rice’s house. 

Terry, a registered sex offender, could face the death penalty if convicted of capital charges.