Murder defendant to get second mental exam
FRONT ROYAL – Murder defendant Clay Marshall Curtis will undergo a second psychological examination to help his attorneys explore mental health issues they believe may aid them in assembling a trial defense.
Circuit Judge Ronald Napier granted a request Monday from attorneys John Bell and David Hensley for $7,500 to hire a psychologist from the University of Virginia to examine Curtis.
Curtis has already undergone an examination of his ability to assist in his defense and his sanity at the time of the crime.
He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Front Royal cab driver Simon Funk Jr., 42. Authorities say Curtis, 63, fatally shot Funk, 42, on Dec. 9 in the 700 block of Kildare Drive.
A search warrant document states that Funk told his girlfriend earlier in the day that he was about to give Curtis a ride into the countryside but was concerned about a gun that the defendant had with him. The two were acquaintances.
Curtis was arrested the same day on a federal probation violation but was not indicted by a grand jury until September. Other charges against him include use of a gun in a felony and being a violent felon in possession of or transporting a gun.
David Hensley, one of Curtis’ two court-appointed attorneys, told Napier that the defendant had spent 30 years in the federal prison system and had been out only a short time before he was arrested. Hensley said information from the bureau of prisons and in a competency and sanity examination conducted earlier this year showed the need to dig further into Curtis’ mental health.
Hensley cited information showing Curtis with a history of an anxiety disorder, sex and gender identity issues and post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly called PTSD.
“Based on the information I have received, it’s the Bureau of Prison records that I have to go on because that’s where he’s been most of his life,” Hensley said of Curtis.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton opposed another psychological examination of Curtis. Both attorneys agreed that Virginia has a strict legal definition of insanity that limits the ability of defendants to cite psychiatric afflictions that constitute no more than “diminished capacity” as a factor in crimes they committed.
“Gender issues or PTSD, if they do not rise to the level of insanity, they do not count,” Layton said.
Layton, Napier and the two defense attorneys agreed to tentatively schedule the trial for either the week of Jan. 23 or Feb. 13.
Napier scheduled the next hearing for 2 p.m. Dec. 5.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org