Man charged with Huntsville murder of wife and child to be sent to mental health facility
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A court-appointed doctor found that Stephen Marc Stone is not competent to stand trial for the killings of his wife and child.
Stone is facing capital murder charges in the February 2013 killings of his wife, Krista Stone and their 7-year-old son, Zachary at their home on Chicamauga Trail in south Huntsville. If convicted, Stone would face either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
He was set for trial March 6, but Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate decided in February a new mental evaluation for Stone was needed. That ruling came after the court was notified that prior evaluations disagreed on whether he was competent to stand trial.
The new findings were not released during a court hearing Thursday, but the court noted the most recent evaluation found Stone was not competent to stand trial. The prosecution and defense agreed with the evaluator’s recommendation that Stone be placed in an in-treatment facility and given medication and then reevaluated in 90 days. But, it may take some time for that process to begin.
Because of limited space, it may take months for Stone to even begin treatment at a state facility. Judge Pate said in Thursday’s hearing that she was going to investigate if there are any other options for treatment for Stone beyond the state’s Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility in Tuscaloosa.
Competency to stand trial generally measures whether the defendant understands the charges against him and the proceedings he is involved with, and is able to assist in his own defense.
That is different than an insanity or mental health defense, which addresses the defendant’s state of mind at time of the crime.
Stone’s attorneys Brian Clark and Larry Marsili have notified the court they plan an insanity defense for Stone, arguing his mental problems were such that he didn’t understand the wrongfulness of his actions at the time of the killings.