Janesville52°

Abbott's competency questioned

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ANN MARIE AMES
October 5, 2011
— A Palmyra man charged with killing a Racine woman and dumping her body in rural Rock County didn't say anything during his court hearing Tuesday except for a gentle "Hi, Mom," and "Hi, Dad," directed at a small group seated behind him in court.

They cried quietly and waved as he was escorted from the courtroom.


Keith Abbott, 47, Palmyra, formerly of Sturdevant, did not appear to be paying attention Tuesday as court officials talked about whether he is competent to face charges of first-degree intentional homicide while armed and hiding a corpse.


Abbott is accused of murdering Kristin S. Miller, 33, Racine. Her body was found Jan. 31 in a ravine in Avon Township in southwestern Rock County.


Abbott appeared to have a tremor in his right hand strong enough to make his shoulders shake. He looked up once when Judge Ken Forbeck said his name.


Abbott in July was court-ordered to undergo a mental and physical examination to determine whether a degenerative neurological disease could hamper his competency. A person must be able to understand the charges and participate in his or her defense in order to be declared competent to stand trial.


The results of the September evaluation show Abbott to be competent.


Examinations in March, April and July are conflicting—the first states Abbott was competent, but the second and third state he was not, according to documents Forbeck read during the hearing.


Abbott remains in protective custody in Mendota Mental Health Institute. He will appear in court again Dec. 14, when defense and prosecuting attorneys are expected to argue the competency matter.


The case was moved to Rock County when DNA evidence did not prove Miller was murdered in Racine County.


Miller was the former girlfriend of Abbott's stepson.



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