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2016-02-18

Hay trial looms in November

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Nathan Matthew Hay, who remains incarcerated in the Bandera County Jail, charged with multiple felonies, including continuous sexual abuse of a minor child and manufacture and delivery of methamphetamine, is currently undergoing a competency trial in the 198th District Court. His initial arrest occurred in March 2014.
Jury selection began Tuesday, Feb. 16, and, according to 198th District Attorney Scott Monroe, the trial is expected to last through Friday, Feb. 19. Hay’s defense attorney is Anton “Tony” Hackebeil of Hondo.
In an interview, Monroe said that when a defendant’s competency is raised, the state has an option of acquiescing to that defense or not. “Obviously, we didn’t,” he said, “which led us to this trial.”
Monroe noted that the trial would primarily consist of testimony from expert witnesses. “The defense will put witnesses on the stand who will declare Mr. Hay incompetent and we’ll have witnesses that dispute that claim.”
Monroe also noted that should Hay be found incompetent to stand trial for his myriad felony charges, he would be remanded to a mental health facility until such time that he is declared “competent.”
“At that point, we’ll bring Mr. Hay back here and start the process all over again,” Monroe said. “This could go on forever.”
Hays’ trial dates have been postponed several times. In an earlier interview, 198th Assistant District Attorney Stephen Harpold 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,” he explained.
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.”
In September 2015, District Judge Rex Emerson signed an order for a mental examination. Jack G. Ferrell Jr., PhD, of Southwest Forensic Consultations and Psychological Associates, LLC, of San Antonio, was retained to determine if Hays was competent to stand trial. Regarding the insanity defense, Ferrell was also asked to determine if Hays is able to testify at any trial or hearing on his many legal issues.
Previously, Dr. Lisa Watts had rendered an opinion that Hay was suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID) – previously known as multiple personality disorder.
Psychology Today des-cribes 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.”
Watts’ report, issued in December 2014, found Hay incompetent to stand trial.
Shortly thereafter, Harpold filed a brief with the court asking Emerson to disallow Watts’ testimony, calling the DID diagnosis “controversial” and “highly contested in the United States and Texas.” Harpold equated Watts’ conclusion with “junk science.”
In an earlier interview, the ADA 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, City of Bandera 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, giving 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.
To no avail did Hackebeil attempt to have the search – and the inventories items – declared inadmissible.
Subsequently, in May 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 later indicted on those charges as well and remanded to the county jail without bond.