Status hearings were held Tuesday morning in Sheridan County District Court for Dharminder Sen and Dennis Poitra, Jr. The two, along with Wyatt Bear Cloud, are charged with the August 26, 2009 shooting death of Sheridan businessman Robert Ernst. Sheridan Media's Mary Jo Johnson has more.
Wyatt Bear Cloud has already been deemed competent to stand trial, and was not present Tuesday morning. Judge Fenn first saw Sen, who is represented by attorney Tim Cotton. County Attorney Matt Redle is representing the State. Judge Fenn said the Court received the State's Mental Evaluation on March 22nd, which shows Sen to be competent to stand trial and competent to wage a defense of his case.
However, now that competency has been established, there are still some motions that have been pending, chief among them the Motion to Transfer Sen's case to Juvenile Court. Judge Fenn will be contacting Judge Sullins to tell him that Sen, along with Bear Cloud, are postured to have the transfer issue settled, one way or another. The judge will set another status hearing within 45 days, and if the transfer is not allowed, Sen is tentatively scheduled to stand trial in District Court the week of October 25th, 2010.
The other pending motion has to do with whether or not Sen can enter a plea of "Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Impairment or Deficiency." Attorney Cotton told the judge that Sen has a history of deep depression dating back to his childhood and adolescence. Pursuant to State Statute 7-11-304, Judge Fenn ordered a mental health evaluation to be conducted at the Sheridan County Detention Center by a representative of the Wyoming State Hospital.
Following Sen, Judge Fenn saw Dennis Poitra, Jr. and his attorney, Erin Wardell. Poitra's situation in court Tuesday was virtually identical to Sen's, the only difference being that he will definitely be tried in District Court. Judge Fenn received the competency evaluation on Poitra on March 29th, which found him competent to stand trial. Poitra, too, is also wanting to submit a motion to enter a "Not Guilty by Mental Impairment or Deficiency" plea. The Court ordered a State evaluation, and a status hearing will be set in 45 to 60 days to be sure things are on track for Poitra's August 30th scheduled trial date.
Covering District Court for sheridanmedia.com news, I'm Mary Jo Johnson reporting.
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