By Mark Grandstaff
Fauquier County prosecutors want a murder suspect with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head committed to a hospital for 24-hour care.
The Fauquier Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office filed an emergency motion to revoke the bond of Judy Kay Deal and to have her committed to Western State Hospital. A circuit judge will consider the motion today (Thursday, May 16).
On Nov. 20, 2011, Deal allegedly shot her estranged husband, John M. Deal, 60, in the torso at his home on Crest Hill Road, according to a search warrant. The shot came after a heated argument between the two. Deal then allegedly turned the gun on herself, shooting herself in the head.
At the time, Rappahannock County native Deal was living in the town of Washington.
Late last year, Judge Jeffrey W. Parker ruled for Deal to continue her mental rehabilitation until June before a final decision is made whether or not Deal is fit to stand trial.
But prosecutors believe her rehab isn’t going as fast as it could.
According to the motion filed in circuit court, “The defendant remains incompetent to stand trial at the present time. However, she may be restored to competency through [Dr. Scott Bender’s] recommendation of in-patient treatment at Western State Hospital.”
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office believes Deal “may be embellishing her symptoms, but given the severity of her injuries and the complexity of her case, [Bender] cannot affirmatively opine as to her malingering.”
In an attached report, Bender, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurobiological sciences at the University of Virginia, discussed the extent of Deal’s injuries from the gunshot. The bullet went into her head “at the left submandibular region” and exited at the top of the left frontal bone. When paramedics reached her in her home, she was conscious and able to speak.
In the intervening time, Deal has been listless and apathetic, Bender said. Between May and September of last year, she had speech, occupational and cognitive therapy twice a week. But she has had trouble finding words and finishing sentences.
She has had a year of outpatient care from her home, where she now lives with her boyfriend, adult son and daughter, Bender said.
In the report, Bender said Deal “showed behaviors difficult to explain from a purely neurological perspective.”
For example, he said, “while spontaneous speech was variable but also sometimes intact, her speech and comprehension consistently deteriorated when asked about her husband.”
When questioned, Deal said she was unaware that the shooting had taken place, Bender said.
“She also stated repeatedly that she did not know what attorneys, courts, judges or juries are,” he said.