The accused killer of a 6-year-old Woodford County boy has received one mental evaluation but will undergo another before trial.
Ronald Exantus, 33, was deemed competent to assist in his defense. But when public defenders said they intend to introduce mental-health evidence at trial, prosecutors saidthey want Exantus to be evaluated again.
Wednesday’s brief proceeding offered no explanation why the Indianapolis divorced father of three allegedly drove to Kentucky, broke into a Versailles house and stabbed Logan James Dean Tipton to death with a knife in December 2015. Prosecutors have given notice that they will seek the death penalty.
The issues surrounding another evaluation were addressed briefly during a motion hour before Special Judge Jeffrey Walson in Woodford Circuit Court. Walson, a retired judge in Clark and Madison counties, presided because the presiding judge, Rob Johnson, was appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
Johnson had ruled in November that Exantus is competent to stand trial. The medical director of the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center, where Exantus was assessed, testified last year that the defendant understands the consequences he faces and is able to rationally assist in his defense.
The new evaluation will try to determine his mental state at the time of the offense.
“Ultimately, it’s going to come down to what the various mental-health experts are going to say about whether he was insane or criminally responsible at the time,” public defender Kim Green said. “This case could go a number of different ways, depending on what those reports have to say.”
Exantus had no criminal history and no psychiatric history, but after being admitted to the psychiatric center last year, he reported hearing voices spoken in the Creole language of his Haitian parents. The voices didn’t command him to do things but spoke negatively about him, Dr. Amy Trivette testified last year.
The trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 11, but the defense filed a motion Wednesday to reschedule it for a later date. That motion is to be heard in court June 7.
“With Judge Johnson going to the Court of Appeals, this case is in a sort of limbo right where we don’t know who the judge is going to be,” Green said. “There are motions that need to be filed, motions that need to be ruled on, and ideally that’s done by the judge who is going to preside over the case at trial.”