By Joey LoMonaco
Murder suspect Judy K. Deal will spend the next six months under around-the-clock observation at Central State Hospital.
Deal, 59, who is charged with the November 2011 murder of her estranged husband, John Michael Deal, was admitted to the Petersburg psychiatric hospital at 10 a.m. Saturday (May 18), after her bond was revoked by a circuit court judge.
The Rappahannock County native was living in Washington when the double shooting took place at her 60-year-old husband’s residence on Crest Hill Road in Hume.
“This is a positive development, because we are getting the defendant into a controlled environment with 24-hour monitoring in a secure psychiatric hospital,” said Fauquier County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Fisher.
Police said Deal shot her husband and then turned the gun on herself. Questions about Deal’s competency to stand trial stem from the traumatic brain injury she suffered as a result.
Since Deal’s symptoms are the result of brain trauma rather than mental illness, Fisher said Virginia statutes on competency, which are geared toward the latter, are not an exact fit for this case.
“This is a great deal different from a typical case,” he said.
Deal’s bail hearing was originally set for last Thursday (May 16) at 3 p.m., but at about 3:07 p.m., counsel was called into chambers, and at about 3:25, court was adjourned without explanation.
“The judge pulled us back into chambers to talk about it,” Fisher said.
According to a press release issued by Fisher’s office Monday, “The commonwealth and the defense agreed to the weekend admission and the revocation of Ms. Deal’s bail bond,” and “in light of the agreement, a court hearing on the issue was canceled last week.”
Court documents, including a report from Dr. Scott Bender of University of Virginia Hospital, state the possibility that Deal might have faked symptoms during previous outpatient treatment.
In his May 10 report, Bender wrote that Deal “performed similarly to NGRI [Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity] acquittals who were thought to be faking bad” during assessments commonly used to determine legal competency.
Fisher expressed hope that the lockdown environment at Central State will minimize that issue.
“We should be able to know for sure whether she’s embellishing her symptoms or not,” Fisher said.
In April 2012, Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker ruled that Deal was not competent to stand trial based on the results of two mental evaluations. Parker ordered her to undergo the appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.
Held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Winchester, Deal was released on a $25,000 bond in February of 2012.
Fisher said Deal’s mental status will be reevaluated in November.
“At the end of the day, what we need to do is have her stand trial for murder,” Fisher said.