Defendant declared incompetent for trial

Jun. 24, 2014 @ 08:05 PM

A 40-year-old man charged with conspiring to kill a Warren County detective has been declared incompetent to stand trial.

In Warren County Superior Court Tuesday, Judge Reuben F. Young said Jeremiah Stephen Royster should be sent to the Central Regional Hospital in Wake County to receive treatment for his mental illness.

“Based on the court’s review of the reports from both doctors and testimony from both doctors, the court at this time finds that Mr. Royster lacks the capacity to proceed,” he said. “More specifically, that he is incapable of assisting in his defense in a reasonable and rational manner.”

Royster faces charges of conspiring with Edwin M. Wilson, 40, to kill Sgt. Terry Williams. Wilson is charged with soliciting Royster to commit first-degree murder.

Law enforcement officers received a call-in tip from an informant who said he was asked about taking part in the plan to kill Williams before a scheduled hearing on drug charges against Wilson, according to Assistant District Attorney Onica Fuller, who prosecuted the case.

Royster was represented by Mani Dexter.

Two psychiatrists who testified in court Tuesday presented evidence to suggest Royster’s delusional state of mind.

Dr. David Bartholomew, a psychiatrist who interviewed Royster, said he spoke with Royster in December and then again in February. At that time, he said he believed Royster could stand trial.

Since then, he said he has had significant doubts about Royster’s ability to proceed with trial.

Bartholomew said he received conspiratorial court motions filed by Royster in May, as well as a report from psychiatrist James Bellard.

Based on those materials, Bartholomew said he questioned his first conclusion that Royster was competent to stand trial.

Dr. James Bellard, a second psychiatrist who interviewed Royster, said he diagnosed the defendant as schizophrenic.

During his first interview, Bellard said he evaluated Royster and determined he was not competent for trial.

He said Royster had a series of bizarre delusions involving aliens and the possibility of his own divinity.

Bellard said after he interviewed Royster two more times, his conclusion remained the same.

According to state prison records, Royster had been released Oct. 24, 2011, after serving more than 20 years in prison on convictions of second-degree murder and burglary stemming from a May 28, 1991, incident. He was convicted Jan. 28, 1993.

His case received a second conviction ruling on Oct. 6, 2011, changing the life term he had been serving to a 20-year maximum term that allowed for his release from the state prison several weeks later.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.