By RICK HAYES
---- — MT. VERNON — A n elderly Centralia man accused of causing “severe” injuries to his wife at their Jefferson County home last month has been found unfit to stand trial.
During a court appearance on Tuesday, Judge Barry Vaughan of McLeansboro ruled Carl P. Daniels, 82, will be remanded to the care of the Department of Human Services. Vaughan based his finding on a report submitted by psychiatrist Dr. Angeline Stanislaus which deemed Daniels unfit both physically and mentally to stand trial.
Daniels was charged on April 23 with aggravated domestic battery, a Class 2 felony, following an incident in which his wife, Sue Daniels, 75, was beaten. Court records stated the defendant “knowingly caused great bodily harm in that the defendant kicked and struck Sue Daniels.”
Sue Daniels died on May 2 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Local officials indicated at the time Sue Daniels had some health-related issues prior to the incident. Autopsy results from her death have still not been released, although State’s Attorney Doug Hoffman said it will have no affect on the outcome of the court’s ruling.
“A bonafide doubt was raised the first time he (Daniels) came to court as to his fitness to stand trial, his ability to understand the proceedings,” Hoffman said. “Once that doubt was raised, the court ordered the evaluation. That evaluation was carried out … the expert opinion is that he be found unfit.”
Daniels was released on his own recognizance, and he did not attend court on Tuesday, since he is receiving treatment at a local hospital. Following his release, he will be remanded to DHS for a civil commitment hearing. DHS has seven days to file a petition with the civil courts for involuntary admission to a mental institution. If the petition is granted, Hoffman is expected to dismiss the charges against Daniels.
“If he is committed the criminal charges will be dismissed. However, we are given some lead time to reinstate the charges if somehow he would regain fitness,” Hoffman said, noting he could reinstate the charges within one year before the statute of limitations is reached.
“Due to the violent nature of the charges, we thought the best route would be civil commitment to protect the community and to address his mental issues,” he added.
Daniels was represented in the case by Public Defender Sean Featherstun.