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>>

  • Kids walk home due to crowded bus

    Kids walk home due to crowded bus

    Friday, February 23 2018 8:18 PM EST2018-02-24 01:18:23 GMT
    School bus crash in Rathdrum, IDSchool bus crash in Rathdrum, ID
    School bus crash in Rathdrum, IDSchool bus crash in Rathdrum, ID

    Spokane Valley, Wash. As a father of four, Justin Hein was not happy that his 12-year-old daughter and five other students walked over a mile from Centennial Middle School to her home last week, “Kind of Frustrated,” said Hein. He continued by saying, “I had no clue that my kid was even nominated or telling to walk home from school with slippery ice, people driving, that aren't watching where they are going,  and trying to watch a cell phone. And I have to worry

    >>

    Spokane Valley, Wash. As a father of four, Justin Hein was not happy that his 12-year-old daughter and five other students walked over a mile from Centennial Middle School to her home last week, “Kind of Frustrated,” said Hein. He continued by saying, “I had no clue that my kid was even nominated or telling to walk home from school with slippery ice, people driving, that aren't watching where they are going,  and trying to watch a cell phone. And I have to worry

    >>
  • One dead, one injured in crash on Highway 395 near Deer Park

    One dead, one injured in crash on Highway 395 near Deer Park

    Saturday, February 24 2018 1:33 AM EST2018-02-24 06:33:14 GMT

    DEER PARK, Wash. - Washington State Patrol is investigating a crash on Highway 395 near Deer Park. WSP officials said they were working to rescue two people who were trapped as a result of the crash Friday evening. Troopers said two cars were involved and there are serious injuries.  Highway 395 is blocked in both directions. Traffic is being divert southbound at Owens and northbound at Burrows.  Avoid the area if possible. 

    >>

    DEER PARK, Wash. - Washington State Patrol is investigating a crash on Highway 395 near Deer Park. WSP officials said they were working to rescue two people who were trapped as a result of the crash Friday evening. Troopers said two cars were involved and there are serious injuries.  Highway 395 is blocked in both directions. Traffic is being divert southbound at Owens and northbound at Burrows.  Avoid the area if possible. 

    >>
  • Liquor store clerks shoot armed robbery suspect, fight over gun

    Liquor store clerks shoot armed robbery suspect, fight over gun

    Saturday, February 24 2018 12:27 AM EST2018-02-24 05:27:46 GMT

    TULSA, Okla. - The owner of an Oklahoma liquor store has released graphic surveillance video showing a violent run-in with an armed robber.  KTUL reports that police responded to Forest Acres Liquor Store in Tulsa Thursday evening after the clerk called 911, saying they shot the suspect several times. The suspect took off before officers arrived, but he later showed up at a nearby hospital.  Police identified the suspect as Tyrone Lee, and 

    >>

    TULSA, Okla. - The owner of an Oklahoma liquor store has released graphic surveillance video showing a violent run-in with an armed robber.  KTUL reports that police responded to Forest Acres Liquor Store in Tulsa Thursday evening after the clerk called 911, saying they shot the suspect several times. The suspect took off before officers arrived, but he later showed up at a nearby hospital.  Police identified the suspect as Tyrone Lee, and 

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

  • Trump talks new gun measures, gun owners talk ‘betrayal’

    Trump talks new gun measures, gun owners talk ‘betrayal’

    Saturday, February 24 2018 4:38 AM EST2018-02-24 09:38:32 GMT

    WASHINGTON (AP) - As President Donald Trump talked this week about banning “bump stocks” and curbing young people’s access to guns, the gun owners and advocates who helped propel his political rise talked about desertion and betrayal.

    >>

    WASHINGTON (AP) - As President Donald Trump talked this week about banning “bump stocks” and curbing young people’s access to guns, the gun owners and advocates who helped propel his political rise talked about desertion and betrayal.

    >>
  • US wins Olympic gold in men’s curling

    US wins Olympic gold in men’s curling

    Saturday, February 24 2018 4:31 AM EST2018-02-24 09:31:40 GMT

    PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) - The American men have won the Olympic gold medal in curling in a stunning and decisive upset of Sweden. John Shuster skipped the United States to a 10-7 victory on Saturday for only the second curling medal in U.S. history. Shuster was part of the other one, too, as the lead thrower on Pete Fenson’s bronze-winning team in Turin in 2006.

    >>

    PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) - The American men have won the Olympic gold medal in curling in a stunning and decisive upset of Sweden. John Shuster skipped the United States to a 10-7 victory on Saturday for only the second curling medal in U.S. history. Shuster was part of the other one, too, as the lead thrower on Pete Fenson’s bronze-winning team in Turin in 2006.

    >>
  • One dead, one injured in crash on Highway 395 near Deer Park

    One dead, one injured in crash on Highway 395 near Deer Park

    Saturday, February 24 2018 1:33 AM EST2018-02-24 06:33:14 GMT

    DEER PARK, Wash. - Washington State Patrol is investigating a crash on Highway 395 near Deer Park. WSP officials said they were working to rescue two people who were trapped as a result of the crash Friday evening. Troopers said two cars were involved and there are serious injuries.  Highway 395 is blocked in both directions. Traffic is being divert southbound at Owens and northbound at Burrows.  Avoid the area if possible. 

    >>

    DEER PARK, Wash. - Washington State Patrol is investigating a crash on Highway 395 near Deer Park. WSP officials said they were working to rescue two people who were trapped as a result of the crash Friday evening. Troopers said two cars were involved and there are serious injuries.  Highway 395 is blocked in both directions. Traffic is being divert southbound at Owens and northbound at Burrows.  Avoid the area if possible. 

    >>