An Athens County judge has ordered that local environmental activist Chad Kister be evaluated for his competency to stand trial on a trespassing charge.
Athens County Common Pleas Judge Michael Ward has also ordered that Kister undergo an evaluation of his mental state at the time of the alleged offense, in connection with a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity that Kister's defense attorney has entered for him.
In early May, a county grand jury indicted Kister on a charge of trespass in a habitation, for an April 15 incident at a residence on Bessemer Road.
Kister is alleged to have entered, without permission, the home of a woman who was renting an apartment from him, and to have "moved (her) out of the doorway" in order to do so.
In orders issued June 18, Judge Ward mandated that Kister be evaluated for his competency to stand trial. The Athens County Prosecutor's office had asked for this evaluation May 4.
A second order the judge issued the same day indicates that Kister has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, though the entry suggests that Kister was not present in court for the hearing at which this occurred.
In a previous criminal case in a lower court last year, Kister flatly refused a deal offered offered by the prosecutor to drop the charges if he agreed to get mental-health treatment.
In connection with this NGRI plea, Ward has ordered that Kister be assessed at a state diagnostic forensic center, to try to determine his mental state at the time of his alleged offense.
The aim is to find out whether psychological experts believe "a disease or other defect of the defendant's mind so impaired (his) reason that, at the time of the criminal act with which he is charged, either (he) did not know that such act was wrong, or… did not have the ability to refrain from doing the act."
In this case and a previous criminal cases dating from last year, in which Kister was charged with publicly threatening Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly and others, he has insisted that a major issue is his claim that he has been given "brain implants," possibly by a federal agency.
In Athens County Municipal Court late last year, the issue of Kister's competence to stand trial on an aggravated menacing charge was raised, but Judge William Grim found him competent.
The judge suggested that while he believes Kister may suffer from mental illness, he is still capable of understanding legal proceedings and assisting in his own defense.
"The issue is not whether Mr. Kister has a mental illness," Grim stated during a pre-trial hearing. "One can be very well educated, very intelligent, and very mentally ill… I believe that he's competent (to stand trial)."
Another judge, appointed to take over the case from Grim, later dismissed the charge, though he indicated that this was mainly because Kister's speedy-trial deadline was getting close.