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2015-10-08

Hay trial looms in November

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Barring another continuance, the jury trial of Nathan Matthew Hay has been set for November. After his initial arrest in March 2014, Hay was charged with multiple felonies, including continuous sexual abuse of a minor child and manufacture and delivery of methamphetamine, among others.
Hay's defense attorney is Anton "Tony" Hackebeil of Hondo. Trial dates have been postponed several times.
Stephen Harpold, 198th Judicial District assistant district attorney, acknowledged that bringing Hay to trial has been slow. "Mr. Hay has an experienced defense attorney who wants to delay proceedings as long as possible," Harpold explained.
Proceedings have also been on a hiatus while Hay undergoes an examination to determine if he is competent to stand trial. Hay's sanity could also be in question - at least by the defense. Hackebeil first raised an insanity defense in January 2015, noting in his motion, "The defendant does not have a rational, as well as factual, understanding of the proceedings and charges brought against him."
On Sept. 14, District Judge Rex Emerson signed an order that enabled the current examination to take place. Jack G. Ferrell Jr., PhD, of Southwest Forensic Consultations and Psychological Associates, LLC, of San Antonio, has been retained to determine if Hay is competent to stand trial. Regarding the insanity defense, Ferrell has also been asked to determine if Hay is able to testify at any trial or hearing on his myriad legal issues.
According to a court file, the exam will take place at the Bandera County Jail and Ferrell must submit a written report to the court regarding Hay's competency no later than Monday, Oct. 19.
If Ferrell determines Hay to be incompetent, the report must include the exact nature of mental deficits that contribute to the incompetency and prospective treatment options.
However, if Hay is found to be insane, the report must include a description of the procedures used during the examination, as well as Ferrell's observations and findings. A report that finds Hay to be insane must be filed with the court on or before Nov. 11.
At this writing, Hay's insanity and competency hearing has been set for 8:30 am, Tuesday, Nov. 17.
Additionally, a hearing has been set for 1:30 pm, Tuesday, Oct. 13, to determine whether the testimony of Dr. Lisa Watts will be excluded from subsequent court proceedings. Earlier, she had rendered an opinion that Hay was suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID) - previously known as multiple personality disorder.
Psychology Today describes DID as "a severe condition in which two or more distinct identities, or personality states, are present in - and alternately take control of - an individual. The person also experiences memory loss that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness."
Previously, sealed journal entries, purportedly written by Hay, had been supplied to Watts. A report she issued in December 2014 found Hay incompetent to stand trial.
However, Harpold filed a brief with the court asking Emerson to disallow Watts' testimony. In a brief, Harpold called the "controversial" DID diagnosis "highly contested in the United States and Texas," and equated it with "junk science."
In an interview, Harpold opined that Hay's attorney "is exploring the incompetency and insanity defense because his client is facing serious charges and a lengthy prison sentence if convicted."
Harpold continued, "We intend to go along with this so there will be no basis at all for an appeal."
Hay's first arrest in conjunction with the current charges occurred during the early morning hours of March 24, 2014. At that time, Deputy Marshal Earl Heidelberg stopped a motorist on Highway 173 South for reckless driving. The female juvenile at the wheel of the Suburban turned out to be Hay's 14-year-old stepdaughter.
Meanwhile, Hay, owner of the now-defunct Bandera Computers, was purportedly unconscious in the backseat of the vehicle during the traffic stop. After regaining consciousness, Hay reportedly refused to give officers consent to search the vehicle.
A search warrant was obtained and Bandera County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Johnson arrived with a K-9 dog trained to detect the presence of drugs. In short order, the dog alerted to drugs in the vehicle, which gave officers probable cause for a search.
At the completion of the search, inventoried items included a hot plate, a blue bag filled with a clear, crystal-like substance, four glass jars, a substance that resembled marijuana, stove fuel and tubing and precursors to methamphetamine production such as iodine and ephedrine, as well as a respirator, among other items.
Subsequently, on Tuesday, May 31, 2014, the grand jury true billed Hay for manufacture and delivery of over 400 - later amended to more than 200, but less than 400 - grams of a Penalty Group 1 controlled substance, possession of chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine and child endangerment.
That October he was also charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child, sexual assault of a child and prohibited sexual contact. He was indicted on those charges as well.
Hay remains in custody in the county jail.