A doctor has testified that Ronald Exantus, the man accused of killing 6-year-old Logan James Dean Tipton, is competent to stand trial.
Exantus has been charged with first-degree murder, burglary, two counts of second-degree assault, and one count of fourth-degree assault in connection with the death of Logan James Dean Tipton. Authorities claim that Exantus entered the Tipton’s home through an unlocked door, took a knife from the kitchen, and stabbed Logan repeatedly in the head while he slept. The oldest daughter in the family and the father, Dean Tipton, fought off Exantus until the police arrived.
There appears to be no connection between Exantus and the Tipton family.
Dr. Amy Trivette is the medical director of Kentucky Correction Psychiatric Center in La Grange. Trivette evaluated Exantus from February 23 to May 2, while he was at the psychiatric center for a court-ordered evaluation and testified at Exantus’ competency hearing.
Trivette testified that Exantus understands the charges that he faces and is able to assist rationally in his own defense. Trivette testified that Exantus had no prior criminal or psychiatric history. Upon his admission to the psychiatric center, Exantus told staff that he smoked marijuana frequently in the year prior to his arrest and that he had contemplated suicide. Exantus also claimed to hear negative voices in his head that spoke to him the Creole language of his parents. While Exantus initially exhibited some impairment in his ability to think logically, Trivette testified that he improved over the course of his treatment at the psychiatric center and had “intact” judgment at the time of his discharge.
The Defense Position
According to Trivette, Exantus understands that the charges against him are serious and the roles of the judge, jury and attorneys. Exantus’ public defender, Bridget Hofler, pointed out that Exantus was not clear on all of the court rules and procedures. She noted that Exantus incorrectly believed that 7 of 12 jurors would have to vote him guilty for him to be convicted. Trivette opined that Exantus would be able to understand such concepts if they are explained to him.
Hofler questioned Trivette as to whether competency is fluid, asking if it was possible for Exantus to not be competent by the time trial began. Trivette answered that it was possible.
Woodford Circuit Judge Rob Johnson will issue a written ruling on Exantus’ competency to stand trial.
After the competency hearing, Hofler made a statement to reporters, “Sometimes, people just have psychotic breaks … They (psychiatric center personnel) can’t even determine what kind of psychosis it was. They just know he was psychotic. He was psychotic when he was in KCPC, they treated him … and he got better… He did a lot of really bizarre things that I’m not really able to go into now, culminating in him getting into a car, and driving over 300 miles to a place he’d never been, going in the home of people he’d never met, and this thing happening… I mean, he’s never been to Kentucky before other than to drive through it to get to Florida to see his parents.”