Harris To Be Evaluated For Mental Disease or Defect Ahead of Murder Trial

By Benjamin Cox on July 27, 2021 at 8:30am

A Cass County man facing first degree murder charges will be evaluated by a psychiatrist for an alleged mental defect or disease.

71 year old Robert D. Harris of Virignia, who is facing first degree murder charges in the January shooting deaths of Kathleen Wzientek and Brenda Crum both of Virginia, was in Cass County Court yesterday afternoon after his defense counsel Kevin Wykoff filed motions asking for state funds to hire a psychiatrist.

Wykoff has asked for up to $4,000 in funds to pay for the services of Dr. Terry Killian of Springfield through the SIU School of Medicine to evaluate Harris’s sanity. According to the court filing, Wykoff learned on June 16th that Harris may have “a mental disease or mental defect that caused him to lack substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct.” Further in the document, Harris’ counsel expresses “no bona fide doubt – at this time – as to Harris’ fitness to stand trial.” The motion argues that Harris’ sanity is at the crux of their defense.

Cass County State’s Attorney Craig Miller says he has questions surrounding the late hour of the defense’s filing for an evaluation of Harris’ mental fitness: “One of the main concerns was that this motion had just been filed last month. I would have thought an evaluation or a motion to have him evaluated would have come up sooner. The opposing counsel, Attorney Wykoff explained that he just learned of the information in June, which was the reason for him filing it so late, but that was one of my main concerns was that 6 months down the road, now we are just seeing this motion to have [Harris] evaluated.”

Miller has other reservations about Harris concerning possible per-meditation in the case but could not elaborate further. A pre-trial conference has been set for August 30th at 11AM in the case to review discovery of Dr. Killian’s findings.