Judge Orders Sanity Test For Sheridan Man Accused Of Killing Mother

A Sheridan judge has ordered a local man be evaluated to determine if he’s mentally fit to face prosecution for allegedly bludgeoning his mother to death.

Clair McFarland

January 18, 20242 min read

Sheridan county courthouse 1 18 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

An evaluator should check on the mental health of a Sheridan man accused of bludgeoning his mother to death then clouding up a fast-food restaurant bathroom with marijuana smoke, a judge has decided.

Israel Melvin, 22, is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 7 bludgeoning death of his mother, Leonila Melvin, in her home in Sheridan. She was found under some gasoline-soaked blankets.

Circuit Court Judge Jefferson Boone Coombs paused Melvin’s prosecution Friday, so a mental-health examiner can see if Melvin is mentally competent to answer the allegations against him.

“There is question as to the Defendant’s ‘capacity to comprehend his position, to understand the nature and object of the proceedings against him, to conduct his defense in a rational manner, and to cooperate with his counsel,’” wrote Coombs, quoting from Wyoming law, in a Monday order after Melvin’s initial hearing.

Wyoming law says a person can’t give his plea in court until he is mentally competent to do so.

Melvin was still at the Sheridan County Detention Center on Monday, but Coombs’ ordered the Evanston-based Wyoming State Hospital to evaluate Melvin on an inpatient basis.

Within 60 days, Melvin’s examiner must give the court its detailed findings, an opinion on whether Melvin is mentally incompetent or deficient and how long that might last, an opinion as to Melvin’s fitness to face prosecution, and recommendations on where Melvin should be detained during the case.

Another Mental Test, Maybe

If Melvin is sane enough or can be made sane enough to give a plea in court and face prosecution, then he can ask for yet another mental-health evaluation to see if he was mentally incompetent during his mother’s death.

Defendants in Wyoming may be found not guilty by reason of mental illness if they could not understand the wrongness of their conduct during a crime or conform their actions to the law.

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter