WOODSTOCK – A Shenandoah County man accused of perjury and suffering from dementia and alcoholism left a veteran judge Monday questioning the defendant’s bond conditions, his ability to comply with the terms of his release from custody and whether he could participate in an alcohol-abuse treatment program.
Robert Lewis Moose Jr. appeared in Shenandoah County Circuit Court where he stood charged with one count of perjury by making a false statement on an application for a firearm on March 15. Moose, 60, of 418 Fairview Circle, Woodstock, remains free on bond.
Retired Judge Dennis L. Hupp ultimately ordered that Moose undergo evaluations to determine the defendant’s sanity at the time of the alleged offense as well as his competency to aid in his own defense and stand trial. Hupp scheduled Moose’s next court date for Jan. 22.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Strecky voiced concerns about Moose’s ability to comply with the bond condition prohibiting the defendant from drinking alcohol. Also, the commonwealth is concerned that Moose cannot participate in any court-ordered evaluation if not sober, Strecky said. The prosecutor said Moose has since violated the term of his release. Hupp ordered Moose to submit to a urine screen that showed the defendant had a blood alcohol content of 0.02.
“If he’s not in the position where he can understand to stop drinking, the only way that we can ensure that he is sober and able to participate in his evaluation is for him to be incarcerated,” Strecky told Hupp. “If we’re going to go down an evaluation route we have to know he can even participate in that evaluation. He can’t simply just sit at home and ignore his bond conditions.”
Hupp asked if repeated alcohol-related offenses prompted the inclusion of the condition on Moose’s bond. Strecky said Moose has no such criminal history.
Attorney Bradley Pollack represents Moose and called the defendant’s wife, Dr. Susan Moose, to testify on his client’s behalf. Susan Moose testified that her husband of 31 years suffers from Lewy body dementia, an illness related to Parkinson’s disease. The type of dementia causes long- and short-term memory loss and affects higher executive functions, the doctor said. Her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a year ago, she said. While hospitalized in Maryland and not drinking alcohol, a neuropsychiatrist diagnosed him with Lewy body dementia, the Susan Moose told Hupp.
Robert Moose last worked in 2007, his wife said.
“He was up and one day quit his job and I think a lot of this stuff, I just didn’t recognize as what was actually going on,” Susan Moose said. “I think it’s been developing for years.
“He drinks every day and when he’s been in the hospital detoxing from alcohol we can say to him ‘why are you here’ and he can say ‘because I need to get off of alcohol’ and then two seconds later he’ll say, ‘I need to go buy some alcohol,’” Susan Moose went on to say.
In response to further questions from Hupp, Moose said her husband doesn’t drive and either she or his caregiver drive Moose to buy alcohol. The defendant has threatened to take a cab or hitchhike to a store to buy alcohol, his wife testified.
“He doesn’t have much life anymore,” she said. “He doesn’t know how to use his phone. He doesn’t know how to use the remote control that controls the TV.”
Hupp asked Susan Moose how her husband could call a cab if he doesn’t know how to use a phone. She said her husband dials numbers on the phone and occasionally figures out the right number.
Robert Moose has left Shenandoah Memorial Hospital during treatment, his wife recalled. The first time he left, the police issued a temporary detention order to keep Moose at the hospital, she said. The second time police found Moose and returned him to the hospital. Police would not seek a detention order for Moose the third time he left the hospital, she said. Moose walked out of a rehabilitation facility in McLean more than once and on one occasion he stepped into traffic, she added.
“The system that’s treating people with alcoholism and dementia has completely failed my husband and no facility’s gonna take him at this point,” Susan Moose said. “I cannot get him into a rehab facility because of the diagnoses.”
A facility in Maryland refused to treat her husband, Susan Moose said.
“If you put him in jail, he will withdraw from alcohol,” Susan Moose said. “He will end up back in the hospital. It won’t change.”
In response to questions from Pollack, Susan Moose said the defendant poses no danger to anyone except to the extent that her husband could damage his liver by drinking alcohol.
Susan Moose testified in response to Strecky’s questions that her husband’s caregiver knows about the bond condition. Asked if anyone controlled Moose’s drinking, his wife testified that “he drinks when he drinks.” Susan Moose said her husband is on medication meant to control his drinking, but the craving is more than he can handle.