After 2 1/2 years waiting in jail for court hearing, inmate is ruled incompetent and freed
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – After Clara Porter spent 2 ½ years in jail while the state decided if she could be forcibly medicated to render her competent to stand trial, Porter finally got her day in court on Tuesday.
And she was freed.
Despite several weeks of forced treatment, Porter was still deemed incompetent to stand trial on charges of assault 3rd, menacing and criminal trespassing in March 2013.
While it is not all that unusual for defendants to be forcibly medicated to see if they can regain competency, it is unheard of for someone to spend this long waiting in jail as courts decide the issue.
After the charges were dismissed Tuesday, the prosecutor, judge and defense attorney discussed what could be done now with Porter, who has been in and out of jail for several years, deemed incompetent to stand trial after every arrest.
"She’s going to be released (from jail) tonight no matter what," Jefferson District Court Judge Amber Wolf said, noting that Porter is likely a danger to herself and others.
Prosecutors asked Wolf to take out a mental inquest warrant on Porter to have her involuntarily committed, which would likely be a short-term solution.
But defense attorney Sarah Clay said Seven Counties Services had agreed to take Porter in and help her find an apartment and get integrated back into society.
Wolf pointed out that Porter could leave Seven Counties any time she wanted, but Clay said her client wanted the help and had nowhere else to go.
Wolf allowed Porter to go to Seven Counties and then told her she is required by law to never own a firearm.
During the hearing, Porter asked the judge, "What reasoning was I deemed incompetent?"
The judge told her doctors found she was incapable of fully understanding the charges against her and helping in her own defense.
Porter has been in Metro Corrections since March 2013, charged with assault 3rd, menacing and criminal trespassing. She was arrested outside of the Healing Place. After a police officer asked her to leave, Porter allegedly "balled her fist and took a fighting stance" and then tried to hit the officer in the face, according to the arrest report.
She was deemed incompetent but a psychologist testified Porter could regain competency after taking medication. Porter refused to take the anti-psychotic medication and her case was appealed to circuit court and then the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
With a maximum sentence of five years in prison for her charges, Porter would have been up for parole about two years ago and likely already served out had she been convicted in 2013.
In March, the state Court of Appeals ruled the crime was serious enough to warrant medicating Porter against her will.
At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Wolf told Porter that while she can leave Seven Counties if she wants, staying with them, "is in your best interest. They are going to help you get accustomed back to being out of custody, You’ve been in custody so long, I think it’s in your best interest."
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