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WJBD - Local News - Christopher Newcomb Discharge Hearing on Murder and Attempted Murder Charges Is Delayed

Christopher Newcomb Discharge Hearing on Murder and Attempted Murder Charges Is Delayed

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

A discharge hearing for a 23-year-old Centralia man found unfit to stand trial on murder and attempted murder charges has been delayed.  

The hearing was originally scheduled for Thursday, but instead Public Defender Timothy Huyett asked for a continuance.  He discovered last week a psychiatrist who earlier examined Christopher Newcomb had not been asked to determine if Newcomb was sane at the time the alleged offense occurred.  The exam was ordered by the court at that time, but the continuance could not be completed without Newcomb present.   He remains in the custody of the Department of Human Services, who is providing treatment.

Newcomb is charged with the June 1st, 2011 murder of Centralia business owner Frank Augustine at his business Augustine Fotoz and the attempted murder, armed violence and aggravated battery to a senior citizen in connection with an incident earlier that day involving his landlord Kathryn Beard of Centralia.  The discharge hearing is required because the Department of Human Services was unable to restore Newcomb to fitness within one year.   

Judge Michael McHaney set a March eighth status hearing to determine if the psychiatrist has completed their study.   If the study is finished, a new discharge hearing date will be set at that time.

State's Attorney Matt Wilzbach says even though Newcomb has been found unfit to stand trial the prosecution still has to prove Newcomb is guilty of the crimes.  There are four potential outcomes of the hearing, guilty, not guilty, guilty but mentally ill, or not guilty by reason of insanity.   Wilzbach says the length and type of treatment will be impacted by the outcome of the discharge hearing. If Newcomb is found guilty but mentally ill, he would receive a set sentence.  If he is found not guilty by reason of insanity, a further evaluation would have to be completed to determine the type of treatment Newcomb needs to receive.  

Newcomb once again appeared alert and calm during the brief court hearing, unlike some early court appearances where he had outbursts and claimed to be someone else.

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