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Friday, May 6, 2016

Mistrial declared in York rape trial

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A mistrial was declared on Wednesday, May 16, in Fulton County Circuit Court, after a former Mammoth Spring resident failed to appear for the second day of his rape trial.

Ronnie York, 47, is charged with the rape of a 13-year-old girl more than three years ago. The young woman told an Arkansas State Police Special Agent in July of 2009 that York had improper sexual contact with her in the early months of 2009.

York was charged in July of 2010, following a meeting with the state police investigator. While York denied the allegation of having improper sexual contact with a minor during a polygraph test, he later admitted to being involved in one incident -- in which he claimed the alleged victim, "came on to me."

York pleaded not guilty to the rape charge, and has insisted he is innocent. York's trial began on Tuesday, May 15, with jury selection and the presentation of prosecution witnesses.

The following day, York was not present at the time the trial was to resume. It was revealed that he had suffered a drug overdose, and would not be able to continue with the trial.

After a long recess, which included discussions between prosecutors Don McSpadden and Dwayne Plumlee and defense attorney John Russo, Judge Tim Weaver declared a mistrial after Russo requested that his client receive a mental evaluation.

York has had two previous mental evaluations, which were filed with Fulton Circuit Court on Aug. 31, 2011 and January 3, 2012.

In the first evaluation, an examiner indicated that York had at least a partial capacity to understand the proceedings against him, but he could not fully determine whether York had the capacity to assist effectively in his own defense.

During the mental health evaluation, York appeared to understand the charge against him, was able to discribe the jobs attorneys and others in the legal system perform and discuss what he could do to assist his attorney.

The examiner noted, however, that, while York had at least a partial capacity to understand legal proceedings, he had difficulty staying on topic, was slow mentally and "expressed strong religious convictions that could possibly be delusional in nature."

A second psychologist who examined York found that York had the capacity to understand he was engaging in criminal conduct when the incident occured, and appeared to arrange a situation in which he could be alone with the minor.

Based on the two opinions, Judge Weaver allowed the trial to go forward.

Further rulings and a possible retrial may be necessary after York receives a third mental evaluation.

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