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Lawyer asks for evaluation of murder defendant’s mental health

BRADENTON — A judge Wednesday ordered two doctors to evaluate a woman accused of murder to see if she is mentally fit to stand trial for allegedly killing a former boyfriend.

Deborah Kay Williams’ defense attorney filed a motion Feb. 5 to have his client’s competency examined before a trial is scheduled in connection to the death of 71-year-old Joseph Scott. The man was stabbed to death Jan. 5 in a boarding home in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue East, Palmetto.

In his motion, Assistant Public Defender Peter Belmont wrote that conversations with his client reveal an irrational thought process on her part and that she engages in irrelevant dialogue and fails to respond to questions related to her case.

Williams is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault. If she goes to trial and is convicted, she could receive a life prison sentence.

Belmont wrote his client has suffered from a “disease, illness, injury or addition which may have caused or is a contributing factor to the defendant’s apparent mental illness.”

After the court-appointed psychologists evaluate Williams, Senior Circuit Judge Thomas Gallen will hear from the doctors and determine if she understands the charges against her, the penalties she faces if convicted and the legal process.

Some of Scott’s neighbors said Williams, 50, had stalked Scott in the months prior to his death.

Williams reportedly lived a few blocks from Scott’s boarding house.

Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said investigators believe Williams attacked Scott because he may have been involved with another woman. Deputies found both Williams and the other woman on top of Scott when they arrived. The other woman was taken into custody on the night of the stabbing but released after detectives determined she had tried to help Scott, Bristow said.

Scott was pronounced dead at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

Williams also is charged with aggravated assault because detectives say she also stabbed a man who came to Scott’s aid.