PRESTONSBURG – A Perry County man who stabbed Perry District Judge Leigh Anne Stephens two years ago was ruled incompetent to stand trial on Wednesday, the same day his trial was scheduled to begin.
Ronnie Brock, 57, of Bonnyman, was arrested in September 2010 after he was alleged to have assaulted Judge Stephens at the Circle T Restaurant in Airport Gardens, stabbing her several times before a bystander intervened and pushed Brock through a window in the front of the restaurant. Stephens was treated for minor injuries following the incident, while Brock was charged with attempted murder.
Floyd Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner was appointed as the special prosecutor, and said even though Brock was initially found to be competent, Wednesday’s ruling was not a surprise as Brock’s mental state was an issue early on in the case.
“What the exact issue was that without proper medication, he is not competent,” Turner remarked. “There is no question about that; everyone that evaluated him said that.”
There were additional issues in the case, Turner said, because Brock would not voluntarily take the medication. That led to questions as to whether or not he could be compelled to take medication just to stand trial, and even if he was ultimately competent for the purposes of a trial, Kentucky law still requires a defendant to also be competent at the time the crime was committed. There were serious questions in that regard as well, Turner added.
“We knew going into today that the trial wasn’t going to go,” he continued, “because Mr. Brock’s mental state really had deteriorated even since the last time he was there. Everyone understood that the trial was not going to go.”
Though the criminal case will not proceed based upon Wednesday’s ruling, Brock will likely undergo further mental evaluation. “We are seeking to have him hospitalized, and we’ll be alleging in our court filing that he is a danger to himself and others based on his mental illness,” Turner said, adding that he expects to file the necessary documents on Thursday.
There will not be a set time that Brock will have to undergo treatment if the judge rules in favor of Turner’s request, and any time frame would depend on the opinion of those administering the treatment. In the meantime, Brock will remain in custody.