Suspect In Eastern State Hospital Murder Competent To Stand Tria - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Suspect In Eastern State Hospital Murder Competent To Stand Trial

SPOKANE, Wash – It's been nearly five months since a psychiatric patient at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake murdered another patient by strangling him; and now, psychologists have deemed Amber Roberts is competent to stand trial.

Court records show Roberts was admitted to Western State Hospital near Tacoma to undergo an evaluation to determine whether she is competent to stand trial.  The assessment included her family history, past drug use and mental illness among other factors.  Records show Roberts has three young children, but does not have custody of either of them.  She admitted to two suicide attempts when she was a teenager, and a long-history of drug abuse including meth, cocaine, heroin, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, opiates and abusing lighter fluid.

Her mother said when Roberts was on drugs she'd become physically aggressive, kicking and hitting people.

Roberts told evaluators she was diagnosed as bi-polar and schizophrenic, and "I stay in the Bible," and "God wants me to tell the truth."

Evaluators determined she "appears to possess the capacity to have a factual and a rational understanding of the charges and court proceedings she faces.  She also appears to have the capacity to consult with her attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding, and to assist her attorney in her defense."

Court records show Roberts was found pacing the hallway in the middle of the night November 20, 2012, when she told a staffer "I murdered someone but you'll have to find him."

Public records from the Department of Social and Health Services reveal the first-hand accounts of what happened that night, by two staff members called to the room. 

Roberts "stopped me and said, ‘I killed someone, do you believe me?'" and later "'I strangled him with an electrical cord, and he put up a struggle,'" wrote the staffer who initially made contact with Roberts in the hallway that night.

The body of Duane Charley was found down the hall on the floor of his room covered by a blanket, in the Forensic Services Unit where patients are sent who have been convicted of a crime of acquitted of one by reason of insanity.

Once nurses approached Charley's room, Roberts "pulled back the blanket and said, ‘Do you think you can handle this?'" the same staffer wrote, "There was blood around his head…pillow…and hands."

The CEO of Eastern State Hospital notified Charley's family of his death, and records reveal, "It was difficult to track what interventions, if any, happened when the patient was found.  The RN's assessment was ‘patient unresponsive.'"

As Roberts was taken to jail, investigators scoured the rooms for evidence, but they didn't find the murder weapon.  Records show cleaning staff found a green electrical cord with what appeared to be dried blood underneath a bed.

Charley had been a patient at ESH since 1995, and Roberts was admitted in 2004 after being acquitted of attempted murder in a separate choking case by reason of insanity.  It's not clear if the two knew each other, or why Roberts allegedly picked him.

In the wake of the ongoing investigation, the hospital's accreditation was pulled, but has since been restored as ESH worked to address ongoing safety concerns.

Roberts is due back in court later this week.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Man run over by lawn mower while trying to kill son with chainsaw

    Man run over by lawn mower while trying to kill son with chainsaw

    Monday, October 15 2018 7:38 PM EDT2018-10-15 23:38:29 GMT

    BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - A man who police say was run over with a lawn mower while trying to kill his son with a chain saw has had to have his leg amputated. The Bristol Herald Courier reports that a warrant for 76-year-old Douglas Ferguson couldn’t be served until Tuesday because of the severity of his injuries.

    >>

    BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - A man who police say was run over with a lawn mower while trying to kill his son with a chain saw has had to have his leg amputated. The Bristol Herald Courier reports that a warrant for 76-year-old Douglas Ferguson couldn’t be served until Tuesday because of the severity of his injuries.

    >>
  • Spokane bomb squad removes explosive device from Smelterville home

    Spokane bomb squad removes explosive device from Smelterville home

    Tuesday, October 16 2018 1:18 AM EDT2018-10-16 05:18:08 GMT

    SMELTERVILLE, Idaho - The Spokane bomb squad was called in to assist with an explosive device found in the Smelterville area on Monday. Shoshone County Sheriff's Office Deputies and the District 2 Fire Department responded to a residence in Smelterville for a possible explosive device. Following some questioning and investigation, the Spokane bomb squad was dispatched.

    >>

    SMELTERVILLE, Idaho - The Spokane bomb squad was called in to assist with an explosive device found in the Smelterville area on Monday. Shoshone County Sheriff's Office Deputies and the District 2 Fire Department responded to a residence in Smelterville for a possible explosive device. Following some questioning and investigation, the Spokane bomb squad was dispatched.

    >>
  • Spokane Detectives collaborate with victims to track down, arrest internet scammer

    Spokane Detectives collaborate with victims to track down, arrest internet scammer

    Monday, October 15 2018 6:55 PM EDT2018-10-15 22:55:22 GMT

    SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. - The Spokane County Sheriff's Office, with help of victims, successfully arrested a 40-year-old man behind an internet scam involving the sale of classic cars. On Oct. 4, Investigative Task Force Detectives arrested Samuel Richardson for second-degree theft with the assistance of the U.S. Postal Service & Newport Police. .

    >>

    SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. - The Spokane County Sheriff's Office, with help of victims, successfully arrested a 40-year-old man behind an internet scam involving the sale of classic cars. On Oct. 4, Investigative Task Force Detectives arrested Samuel Richardson for second-degree theft with the assistance of the U.S. Postal Service & Newport Police. .

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Spokane bomb squad removes explosive device from Smelterville home

    Spokane bomb squad removes explosive device from Smelterville home

    Tuesday, October 16 2018 1:18 AM EDT2018-10-16 05:18:08 GMT

    SMELTERVILLE, Idaho - The Spokane bomb squad was called in to assist with an explosive device found in the Smelterville area on Monday. Shoshone County Sheriff's Office Deputies and the District 2 Fire Department responded to a residence in Smelterville for a possible explosive device. Following some questioning and investigation, the Spokane bomb squad was dispatched.

    >>

    SMELTERVILLE, Idaho - The Spokane bomb squad was called in to assist with an explosive device found in the Smelterville area on Monday. Shoshone County Sheriff's Office Deputies and the District 2 Fire Department responded to a residence in Smelterville for a possible explosive device. Following some questioning and investigation, the Spokane bomb squad was dispatched.

    >>
  • Oregon hunter kills advancing cougar near Mt. Hood

    Oregon hunter kills advancing cougar near Mt. Hood

    Tuesday, October 16 2018 1:01 AM EDT2018-10-16 05:01:26 GMT
    Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on UnsplashPhoto by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon man hunting for deer near Mt. Hood killed a cougar after he says three of the big cats advanced toward him. KGW-TV reports Bill Nylund of Rhododendron was hunting near Badger Lake earlier this month when the cougars approached. He says the animals didn't appear scared of him, leaving him no choice but to shoot one. He shot an adult female cougar that was about 50 feet (15 meters) away.    

    >>

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon man hunting for deer near Mt. Hood killed a cougar after he says three of the big cats advanced toward him. KGW-TV reports Bill Nylund of Rhododendron was hunting near Badger Lake earlier this month when the cougars approached. He says the animals didn't appear scared of him, leaving him no choice but to shoot one. He shot an adult female cougar that was about 50 feet (15 meters) away.    

    >>
  • Little, Jordan talk issues at Idaho gubernatorial debate

    Little, Jordan talk issues at Idaho gubernatorial debate

    Tuesday, October 16 2018 12:49 AM EDT2018-10-16 04:49:37 GMT
    KTVBKTVB

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho's gubernatorial candidates struck starkly different tones on transparency, health care and education during a live televised debate Monday evening. Lt. Gov. Brad Little, a longtime Republican lawmaker who has served as lieutenant governor since 2009, faced Democrat Paulette Jordan, a former state lawmaker and member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council on the Idaho Public Television debate. 

    >>

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho's gubernatorial candidates struck starkly different tones on transparency, health care and education during a live televised debate Monday evening. Lt. Gov. Brad Little, a longtime Republican lawmaker who has served as lieutenant governor since 2009, faced Democrat Paulette Jordan, a former state lawmaker and member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council on the Idaho Public Television debate. 

    >>