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IDOC turns away murder suspect

by KEITH KINNAIRD
Hagadone News Network | December 3, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The Idaho Department of Correction is denying accused murderer Judith Marie Carpenter admission into its security medical program, according to 1st District Court records.

Counsel for the department said the denial is based on a review of court documents and Idaho Department of Health & Welfare records.

"In consultation with DHW staff, it is agreed defendant does not require a maximum-security environment for competency restoration," Deputy Attorney General Karin Magnelli said in the notice of admission denial.

Correction and Health & Welfare officials said Carpenter's needs can be met in a less-secure hospital setting.

"In the absence of other evidence of violent behavior demonstrating a substantial risk of harm to others, defendant's level of risk does not appear to be appropriate for a highly restrictive maximum-security environment," Magnelli wrote.

Carpenter will admitted to Health & Welfare's state hospital in Orofino, court records indicate. The facility is a 55-bed psychiatric hospital that provides treatment for acute, court-committed patients.

Carpenter, a 59-year-old from Coeur d'Alene, is charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Shirley Ann Ramey on April 5, 2017. Carpenter emerged as a suspect in the killing after a Glock semiautomatic pistol seized by authorities in Montana was linked to the murder of Ramey, who was found dead in her Trestle Creek home. The firearm was seized as evidence in an alleged road rage incident involving Carpenter, court records said.

Carpenter's fitness to proceed in the criminal case fell into question during mediation that could resolve the case without the need for a jury trial. Judge Barbara Buchanan found that Carpenter was dangerously mentally ill and lacked the capacity to make informed decisions about her treatment after reviewing a mental health evaluation.

Mental health evaluations are filed under seal, which means they cannot be viewed by the public. The court's commitment order suspends proceedings in the criminal case until Carpenter is found competent to assist in her own defense.

Carpenter pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com or followed on Twitter @KeithDailyBee