Feb. 16—POTTSVILLE — A Schuylkill County judge on Tuesday granted a request for a mental competency evaluation for a Pine Grove man charged with killing his grandmother at their home last month.
Judge Jacqueline Russell granted the request of public defender Lora McDonald to have Kalvin Lee Clark, now 33, seen by experts to determine whether he would be mentally capable of assisting with his defense should the charges against him go to trial.
Clark was charged by state police Trooper Ian Keck of the Schuylkill Haven station with causing the death of Sharon Lee Zimmerman at 89 N. Tulpehocken St. between 1 p.m. Jan. 23 and 3 p.m. Jan. 24. He faces one count each of murder of the first degree, murder of the third degree, aggravated assault, strangulation, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault.
Tuesday's hearing was conducted by video conference as Clark remains in Schuylkill County Prison, where he is being held without bail.
Russell asked Clark if he understood that the purpose of the hearing was not to determine the facts surrounding the charges but if he is mentally competent to move forward with the case.
Clark said, "I don't understand why I'm being charged with homicide when I didn't do anything wrong."
McDonald also asked Russell to grant a request to have her client evaluated for mental illnesses even if he is determined to be competent to assist in his trial.
"He has very long standing mental health issues," McDonald said.
Keck said that after being taken into custody and read his rights by Pine Grove police, Clark gave a statement saying that on Jan. 23 he and Zimmerman, 73, became involved in an argument that continued as they went to the second floor.
Clark said the argument became physical as Zimmerman was yelling and he did not want the neighbors to hear, Keck said.
Keck said Clark reported putting his hand in his grandmother's mouth and gave her a "fishhook," pulling on her cheek, to keep her from yelling.
It was then Clark said the woman slipped at the top of the steps and fell halfway down, the trooper said.
Keck said Clark then reported placing his arm around his grandmother's neck and pulling her back up the steps. He then took her to the bottom of the steps, where she fell to the ground, and he left her lay.
Keck said Clark admitted disconnecting the telephone and taking the woman's phone to keep her from contacting police.
The following morning, Keck said Clark found his grandmother at the bottom of the steps and saw she defecated herself. He pulled her up the steps and placed her in the shower to wash her but found her cold to the touch.
Keck said the woman suffered bruising and abrasions and what appeared to be a substantial facial injury.
She was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:44 p.m. Jan. 24 by a member of the Schuylkill County coroner's office. The results of a subsequent forensic autopsy led to the filing of the murder charges.
McDonald also asked Russell to have her client evaluated on other charges stemming from two earlier incidents.
State police Trooper Tyler Brackman of the Schuylkill Haven station charged Clark with felony aggravated assault, misdemeanor simple assault and summary harassment after an incident at 8 W. Laurel St. in Tremont during the early morning hours of Oct. 7.
Brackman charged Clark with getting into an argument with his then girlfriend Laisey Hoy and biting her ear to the point he almost bit it off. Her ear was severely disfigured and require surgery, Brackman said.
As part of the same incident involving Hoy, Pottsville Police Patrolman Lynnsay Bauman charged Clark with felony criminal trespass and misdemeanor offenses of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct after an incident at Lehigh Valley Hospital Schuylkill East, where Hoy was being treated. Bauman said Clark entered the hospital illegally around 4:20 p.m. and tried to enter the operating area. He refused to leave despite being ordered to do so more than 20 times by hospital staff.
In addition to ordering the evaluations on Clark, Russell put a stay on any future court proceedings, including preliminary hearings, until the results of the mental health tests are received.