Circuit Judge John Dan Kemp signed a commitment order June 3 for Janet Lynn Shaver, the suspect charged with first degree murder of Gerald Shaver in Fulton County, to remain in custody of the Department of Human Services for an additional 10 months until the defendant regains her fitness to proceed with court hearings.
The ruling was based on evaluations performed by doctors at the Arkansas State Hospital who determined Shaver lacks the fitness to proceed with court proceedings.
The chain of events that led to her incarceration follows:
Shaver reportedly walked to her neighbor's house and told them an intruder had broken into her home July 7, 1999. When officers arrived at the Shaver home they found Shaver's spouse, Gerald Shaver, dead on the upstairs bedroom floor.
Officers noted there were several stab wounds on Gerald Shaver's upper chest area. Officers were unable to find any signs of forced entry. Family members told authorities the Shaver family always kept their doors locked during the night.
According to documents recorded in the clerk's office, Shaver told Investigator Tommy Cleveland of the Arkansas State Police that someone had broken into her home and injured her husband, but she was unable to identity the suspect.
Cleveland noticed what appeared to be blood splatters on her feet, lower legs and on the underside of her forearms. When Cleveland questioned Shaver about the blood she told him she had walked through some high weeds before she arrived at the neighbors' home to get help.
The affidavit recorded in the clerk's office said Shaver was unable or unwilling to answer questions coherently and she did not appear to be in her right mind.
Records obtained from the clerk's office reflected a petition to commit Shaver Dec. 1, 1980 by her husband, Gerald Shaver, who said she was homicidal and suicidal. The petition said she appeared confused and seemed to be in a trance. He further said his wife hid butcher knives under the bed and she had threatened him with the knives.
Two years later, Oct. 12, 1982, an order for a 45-day commitment saying in part that Shaver was mentally ill and homicidal, suicidal or gravely disabled was signed by the probate judge.
In July 1984 another 45-day order commitment was signed by the probate judge reporting Shaver was homicidal, suicidal or gravely disabled. A statement by Gerald Shaver noted his wife stays up at night and talks to imaginary people.
A letter addressed to Kemp from Charles H. Mallory, Ph.D, forensic staff psychologist, and O. Wendell Hall III, M.D. forensic medical director, dated May 25, 2000, said Shaver had improved from her previously diagnosed psychiatric illness and is now fit to proceed. The diagnosis of her condition was bipolar I disorder, most recent episode manic; and personality disorder.
The letter further said at the time of the alleged offense Shaver did not lack the capacity to appreciate the criminality of her conduct or to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law. It was the opinion of the forensic evaluation team that at the time the the alleged offense was committed, Shaver had the capacity to have the culpable mental state to commit the offense charged. It was further recommended by Mallory and Hall that in order to maintain Shaver's competency to stand trial it would be in her best interest to remain at the Arkansas State Hospital until trial time.
Shaver appeared in court with her attorney, Michael Loggains, Aug. 15, 2000, entering a plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Kemp signed an order for Shaver to return to the Arkansas State Hospital Sept. 18, 2000.
Shaver's sister, Joan Carlson, petitioned the courts Oct. 11, 2000 for guardianship of her sister and the courts appointed her as guardian Nov. 21 of that year.
John C. Everett of Fayetteville entered his appearance March 5, 2001, at the Fulton County Courthouse announcing he would now be representing Shaver.
On the basis of a report by the Arkansas State Hospital dated July 27, 2001, Shaver was declared to lack the mental capacity to understand proceedings against her and lacked the capacity to assist effectively in her own defense. The court ordered Shaver committed to the custody of the state until her fitness to proceed was restored and the director of the Arkansas State Hospital was ordered to file within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 10 months with the court, a written report indicating when Shaver would be fit to proceed with court proceedings.