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Murder trial delayed for competency concerns

LISBON – With concerns about the competency of one of the children of Destiny Moody, also known as Destiny Penny, to testify in the trial of her alleged murderer, Terrance Haywood, the Common Pleas Court trial has been postponed for now.

Haywood, 28, Chester Avenue, Wellsville, is accused in the shooting death of his 26-year-old girlfriend, while three of her four children were upstairs in her home in Wellsville in October of 2019. He is charged with murder, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and having weapons while under a disability.

Defense attorney Dennis McNamara filed the motion to push Haywood’s trial date back from the May 17 on the court’s docket, because he said he has concerns about whether the child, who was 3 or 4 years old at the time of his mother’s death, to be able to recall what happened and testify. In his motion, McNamara said he has never seen a child that young found competent to stand trial. He also questioned whether the child’s current home, with Penny’s mother, may be in some way influencing him as to what he remembers with the grandmother possibly voicing that she believes Haywood killed her daughter.

Micah Ault, special prosecutor with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said the child was 4 years old at the time and his caretakers do not talk to him about what happened and could testify to that.

McNamara asked for the additional time, in part in order to find a child specialist who can assist him in asking the right questions to make certain the child will be competent to stand trial. Additionally, he needed more time to go through evidence, including items Ault just received and was able to give him last week.

Ault said he had no objection to continuing the trial date.

The jury trial is now scheduled to begin on Aug. 9 with a status conference scheduled for Aug. 2. An hour prior to the status conference, a competency hearing was scheduled to give attorneys a chance to speak with the child in front of Judge Scott Washam.

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