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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Doctors offer conflicting assessments of defendant's mental competency

DADE CITY - Doctors hired to evaluate the mental competency of a Dade City man charged with the December murder of a social worker have conflicting reports. Two doctors hired by Lucious Edward Smith's public defender have assessed him as incompetent to stand trial for the murder of social worker Stephanie Nicole Ross. The doctor used by the state attorney's office says he is competent. Those findings were revealed Tuesday morning during a hearing at the Robert D. Sumner Judicial Center. Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa will review one of the recorded evaluations and hold a pretrial hearing April 16 to hear from all three doctors. Siracusa then will rule on Smith's ability to stand trial. Smith was not present during the hearing.
Members of Ross' family attended the hearing, but declined to comment. On Dec. 10, Ross, a social worker for Maryland-based Integra Health Management, visited Smith's Dade City apartment to deliver paperwork. Smith chased Ross from his apartment and stabbed her several times with a butcher knife, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Ross was 25. Asked if he wanted to have another evaluation performed on Smith, Siracusa said he wanted to find out what the three doctors had to say. "Sounds like I need to have a hearing and hear from the doctors, right?" Siracusa asked assistant state attorney Manuel Garcia III and public defender Tom Hanlon. "The state says he's competent, the defense says he's incompetent." Ross, hired by Integra Health Management in September 2012, visited Smith for the first time in October. Following the meeting, Ross wrote in Smith's case file that two people should go to his home in the future. She also wrote she was "very uncomfortable" with Smith, who served seven years in prison for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He was released in 2005.

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