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Spread Eagle suspect due mental evaluation

August 24, 2012
By TOM GIAMBRONI - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

LISBON - The Minerva man charged with having a handgun in his guest room at the Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation over his strenuous objection.

The mental evaluation of Kevin L. Wingert, 51, was ordered during a preliminary hearing held Thursday before Columbiana County Municipal Court Judge Carol Robb.

Wingert was charged with carrying a concealed weapon by county sheriff's deputies called to the Spread Eagle on Sunday evening. Wingert had been asked to leave after the manager saw some bullets fall from his shorts' pocket.

There are guest rooms at the Spread Eagle, and Wingert had checked into one. Wingert was escorted to his room by deputies, and while collecting his personal belongings he pulled a cocked and loaded handgun from under his pillow, which was handed over without incident.

During yesterday's hearing, public defender Constance Witt requested a mental evaluation of her client be performed before they go any further, which drew an immediate objection from Wingert, who asked to speak directly with the judge. Robb tried to dissuade him from doing so and advised him of his rights, but he persisted.

Wingert said he wanted to enter a plea immediately and get it over with rather than prolong the case. "I didn't know I needed a permit," said Wingert, who explained he purchased the weapon for protection following the death of his brother, with whom he lived, and after he began seeing strangers in his house and getting phone calls from people who said nothing.

"I purchased the handgun for self-defense. I didn't purchase it because I was a loony," he said.

Wingert said he brought the gun to his room rather than risk have it being stolen from his car. "I didn't take the gun in there to use it on them or me," he said.

Upon further questioning by the judge, Wingert said he takes medication for a bipolar condition. Assistant County Prosecutor Megan Payne also noted Wingert spent time in the state mental facility in Massillon in the 1990s and was prohibited from having any weapons because of a prior conviction.

He remains in the county jail on $25,000 bond pending his next hearing.



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