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2016-03-31

Hay declared competent – Part fini

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

In his closing statement in the three-day competency trial of Nathan Matthew Hay, defense attorney Anton “Tony” Hackebeil asked the jury if it would “hurt” to confine his client to a mental institution for a period of time in order that a “significant effort can be made to restore him to competency.”
Essentially, defense witness forensic psychologist Dr. Raleigh Wood answered that question during his testimony. To a similar query from Hackebeil, Wood noted that confinement in a hospital setting could possibly lay the groundwork for an eventual verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” on Hay’s myriad felony charges.
Would ‘get me
out of jail’
Wood’s assessment pretty much mirrored that of the defendant himself. During calls from the jail to an unidentified person in December 2014, Hay read from Dr. Lisa Watts’ evaluation that stated: “It is my professional opinion that Mr. Hay is incompetent to stand trial.” Apparently, she had indicated he suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) formerly known as Multiple Personalities.
Watts’ diagnosis was later suppressed by 198th District Judge Rex Emerson because she had failed to follow steps mandated by state statutes necessary following a finding of incompetency.
During his phone conversation, Hay said that Watts’ report would “get me out of jail with a ‘not guilty’ verdict.” He continued, “I’ll be in a mental institution for a while, probably in Austin. Things are looking up. I’ll go there and when I’m released, I’m done – no probation, no [sex] registry and charges dropped. I’m pretty much done with court.”
Hence the “not guilty by reason of insanity” alluded to by Wood.
‘Don’t buy that s••t’
An incompetency de-fense had apparently been on the defendant’s mind for some time. During a phone call to his father on Oct. 9, 2014, the question of competency – and the specter of Hay having multiple personalities – was first raised. To that assertion, Hay’s father, rejoined, “I got multiple personalities in my back pocket. How many do you want? I don’t buy that s**t.”
However, by August 2015, all references to a possible transfer to a mental hospital seemed to have disappeared. In another call, Hay was recorded saying, “Tony said to me if I just stay here, he’ll keep me out of prison.” Almost pararenthetically, Hay added, “If I’m found guilty they’ll throw me in prison forever.”
In his closing statement, Hackebeil told the jury that Hay lacked an ability to confer with his lawyer “with a rational degree of understanding.”
Hackebeil said defense witness forensic psychologist Dr. Jack Ferrell had determined Hay was being besieged by “alters” – different personalities – which Wood had dismissed as “feigning.”
Hackebeil added, “Nathan has a hard time dealing with reality and a difficult time adjusting to life. Fantasy has become his reality. Does [Nathan] have a rational degree of understanding to consult with me?”
Dismissing the telephone conversations as fantasies on Hay’s part, Hackebeil reiterated, “What is important is does Nathan have the ability to consult with his attorney with a rational degree of understanding?”
‘Come back quickly’
In his closing statement, 198th Assistant District Attorney Stephen Harpold urged the jury, “Come back quickly and let Mr. Hay know you’re not going to put up with his manipulation and lying to delay [these proceedings] and beat the system.”
Noting that neither Hackebeil nor Farrell presented evidence of Hay’s incompetency, Harpold said, “Jack Farrell based his assertion on the fact that Mr. Hay failed to answer 10 questions on a psychological test. Dr. Wood was 100 percent certain he was feigning.”
Although a witness for the defense, Ferrell never diagnosed Hay as “incompetent to stand trial.” Rather he said that was something for the court to decide.
Harpold continued, “Even [Mr. Hay’s] father told him to grow up and take responsibility. [Multiple personalities] is a fantasy Nathan Hay created to manipulate and control people. He knows exactly what’s going on and talks intelligently with everyone except apparently Tony, Dr. Ferrell and Dr. Wood.”
Taking Harpold’s suggestion to “come back quickly” to heart, the jury deliberated just 15 minutes before finding Hay competent to stand trial on the felony charges.
Pre-trial hearing set
In an interview on Wednesday, March 23, Harpold said a pre-trial hearing has been set in District Court for April 25. “At that time, we’ll set the date for Mr. Hay’s criminal trial,” he said.
Although he anticipated that Hackebeil would file a notice of an appeal in the competency trial – or even a notice requesting a new trial – none has been forthcoming. “And it’s been over 30 days,” Harpold said. Additionally there have been no rumblings from the defense about a possible change of venue to Kerr County.
Regarding a possible plea bargain, Harpold said, “There had been a previous offer, but we will have to reevaluate a plea offer in future discussions.”
Backstory
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 was purportedly asleep in the backseat of the vehicle when the traffic stop was initiated. After regaining consciousness, Hay refused to give officers consent to search the vehicle.
Subsequently, 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 inventoried items – declared inadmissible.
Two indictments
In May 2014, a Bandera County Grand Jury indicted 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. Hay was later indicted on those charges as well and remanded to the county jail without bond, awaiting trial.