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A competency hearing for a Georgiana man accused of murdering a 72-year-old woman ended Thursday without a ruling.
A competency hearing for a Georgiana man accused of murdering a 72-year-old woman ended Thursday without a ruling.

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Competency hearing ends with no ruling

Published 4:47pm Thursday, September 5, 2013

A competency hearing for a Georgiana man accused of murdering a 72-year-old woman ended Thursday without a ruling.

Shawn McClain is accused of stabbing Dorothy Leatherwood to death. A friend found her dead inside her home on Wise Street in Georgiana on Nov. 14, 2012.

McClain was arrested Dec. 13, 2012.

At Thursday’s hearing, Dr. Karl Kirkland, a psychologist and forensic examiner, testified that it is his opinion that McClain falls in the range of mild mental retardation.

“I’d say he falls on the lower end of the range,” Kirkland said.

Kirkland testified that his evaluation revealed that McClain has an IQ of 53, and that his reading level was on par with that of a kindergartner, while his reading comprehension ability was equal to that of a second grader.

An average IQ score falls in the range of 85 to 114.

Defense attorney Brandon Sellers also entered McClain’s school records as evidence. The records were reviewed by Kirkland as part of his evaluation.

“The records showed that in the fourth grade, at age 12, Mr. McClain was progressing slower than you would expect,” Kirkland said. “This is consistent with what (Sellers) and (McClain’s) mother told me during my interviews.”

District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer argued that while McClain may face challenges when it comes to reading and reading comprehension, he was able to seek out odd jobs around his neighborhood and also negotiate payment.

In response to Tesmer, Kirkland testified that it was his understanding that McClain did in fact handle his own negotiations when seeking out work around the neighborhood.

During a preliminary hearing in March, Butler County Sheriff’s Office investigator Sean Klaetsch testified that deputies discovered an envelope with a note written on it on a side table in the living room of Leatherwood’s home that referenced money. He also stated that witnesses had informed authorities that McClain at times worked odd jobs for Leatherwood.

The envelope was sent off to a handwriting expert, along with a sample of McClain’s handwriting, and the expert offered the opinion that the note was written by McClain, according to Klaetsch.

Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell said she would like to review McClain’s school records before issuing her ruling.

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