NEW CUMBERLAND - The man accused of killing his Chester girlfriend in January will be examined to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial, according to paperwork filed by his attorney.
Adam C. McCloud, 34, formerly of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, was scheduled to go to trial in Hancock County Circuit Court on Sept. 4 for the death of Sara Jean Williams, 37. He faces charges of murder and attempted arson and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
His trial has been postponed, however, now that his attorney, public defender F. William Brogan Jr., has asked for a mental status examination.
Adam C. McCloud
The examination, recently approved by Judge Martin J. Gaughan, will determine if McCloud is competent to stand trial and if he is criminally responsible for the murder of Williams, the motion said.
McCloud is accused of killing Williams in their rented Phaeton Avenue home on Jan. 26. Williams' body was found by a firefighter after the Chester Volunteer Fire Department was called for an odor of gas coming from the house. Her body was found in the basement next to McCloud, who was in a semi-conscious state, according to documents filed by the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
An autopsy by the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Williams died as a result of strangulation and blunt force injuries to the head. By the time authorities arrived, the house had filled with natural gas. Carbon monoxide detectors had been disabled, the autopsy report said.
Chester police had been called to the house Jan. 14 on a report that McCloud had overdosed. McCloud and Williams reportedly had met at a treatment center and were attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings together, according to documents filed by the Chester Police Department.
On Jan. 26, police responded to the house again after a co-worker reported that Williams had failed to show up for work. Williams had been an aide at Allison Elementary School in Chester since 2009.
Williams' body was found on the basement floor, tied to a post, according to police reports. McCloud, found with injuries to his head and left side, was taken to East Liverpool City Hospital. Authorities investigated the case as a murder-attempted suicide.
McCloud was charged upon his release from the hospital about a month later, and the Hancock County grand jury indicted him in May.
The defense motion asks that McCloud be examined by a psychiatrist or psychologist or that he be admitted to a mental health facility for observation and further examination for no more than 20 days.
Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis said a new trial date won't be set until the results of the competency examination are final. "We can't do anything with this case until this issue is resolved," he said.
Competency to stand trial means that McCloud has the present ability to consult with his legal counsel, that he has sufficient memory and coherence of ideas to assist in the preparation of his defense, that he has sufficient capacity to testify on his behalf if he chooses, and that he has sufficient capacity to understand the nature of the proceedings against him, the motion said.
To determine whether McCloud is criminally responsible, the examination must ascertain whether he, as a result of mental disease or defect, lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law, the motion said.
Public defender Brogan could not be reached for comment.