Suspect in police officer's slaying sent to mental hospital

Suspect in police officer's slaying sent to mental hospital »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - A judge ordered the woman accused of shooting and killing Eugene Police Officer Chris Kilcullen to be held at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem for treatment.

The court found Cheryl Dawn Kidd, 56, mentally unfit to stand trial at this time.

"It's not a close call. The judge is basically making the decision based on the report, and the report was unequivocal," Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner said.

The judge ordered the state to evaluate Kidd within 60 days of her arrival at the state hospital to determine whether or not she is likely to have the capacity to stand trial in the future.

Kidd could be held for treatment for up to three years under the order.

"How long it takes to come to whatever result the state hospital is going to come to is uncertain," Gardner said. "The only thing we know is that it will not take more than three years."

Gordon Mallon, Kidd's lawyer, said he did not know whether or not treatment would make his client able to stand trial for Kilcullen's killing.

Medication and counseling might be part of the treatment, Mallon said. A defendant might also undergo education about the legal system so they are able to understand the jobs of lawyers, judges and jurors.

Mallon said his client must be able to discuss what is happening in the case and be able to suggest witnesses.

"A real important part, which is really sort of a separate part of that is being able to make a decision, being able to hold enough information in your mind at one time to make a decision, such as whether or not to plead guilty or not guilty," Mallon said.

KVAL News asked Gardner what would happen if Kidd is never deemed fit to stand trial. Gardner expressed frustration and said Oregon's system is "flawed."

"In a case in which the defendant is clearly not able to aid and assist, there is no disagreement from the DA's office. The law requires a defendant to be able to aid and assist in order to move forward with the criminal case, so we are following the law," he said. "It may be a matter of days or a month or, we'll just have to see. If the defendant can be rendered able to aid and assist in a shorter period of time, then the case will move forward. If the defendant cannot be rendered able to aid and assist and will never be, if there is a determination that she will never be able to get there, then the case will have to go on a different track. It can't move forward in the criminal process."

Defense team: Suspect delusional

Kidd was examined by a psychiatrist after her arrest who diagnosed her with schizophrenia, grossly disorganized thinking, extreme paranoid delusions and the inability to differentiate the past from the present, The Associated Press reported in May.

Her lawyers requested a further evaluation for at least 30 days at Oregon State Hospital in Salem to determine if Kidd is fit to stand trial. KVAL News is working to clarify the details of the judge's order. Judge Mary Ann Bearden's office confirmed the order had been signed but said the document was still in the judge's chambers as of noon Tuesday.

Investigators have said Officer Chris Kilcullen did not fire his gun before he was killed April 22, 2011, while trying to stop a Buick Skylark driven by Kidd.

The court filing said defense attorneys Mallon and Mark Rader had little medical information available about Kidd but found records from 1989 indicating a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

In January, Kidd's primary health care provider sent her to the emergency room for a mental health evaluation, the filing said.

In the evaluation after her arrest, she described being shot at by at least two different police officers on different occasions and said she believes Kilcullen shot at her.

Police found a desk pad in her Springfield apartment that included written references to bullet holes in a Buick.

Kidd has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report