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Capital murder trial set for 2014

Judge Joel Cunningham has set a competency hearing for Oct. 21 in the James Lloyd Terry capital murder case.

Judge Cunningham set the date during a motions hearing Monday morning in Halifax County Circuit Court.

Special Prosecutor Petra Haskins said Tuesday Cunningham was expected to rule at the October hearing on the defendant’s competency to stand trial.

The case, which has been pending since September 2011 and had been scheduled for trial Sept. 3-30, took another turn in July after a court-approved psychiatrist found Terry incompetent to stand trial.

Cunningham set the date for trial in the case to September 2014 and ruled on three other motions at Monday’s hearing.

The presiding judge granted a commonwealth motion to authorize compensation of an expert to assist prosecutors at the competency hearing, and he also granted a commonwealth motion for Special Prosecutor David Grimes to continue in the case following his retirement.

Grimes, currently Commonwealth’s Attorney for Pittsylvania County, has announced his retirement from that position effective Dec. 31.

Cunningham also granted a defense motion to allow the competency evaluator to testify as to heresay at the motions hearing on Oct. 21.

Terry, a 41-year-old Halifax resident, is facing seven charges in connection with the April 2011 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.