GREENFIELD — Marcie Stafford was going through a period of “mental unsteadiness” when she threatened to kill a local family and burn their house down, her attorney has argued.
Greenfield attorney Ariel Schoen, who was appointed to represent the former Fortville clerk-treasurer in her felony intimidation case, has asked a judge to order a psychological evaluation to determine if Stafford is competent to stand trial.
In a motion to the court, Schoen writes Stafford has been mentally unstable for several years, according to court documents.
A Fortville family contacted police after Stafford sent them hostile text messages, including threats to burn the family’s house down and kill their children, after a dispute, court documents state. Stafford was arrested in December and pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of intimidation.
Schoen is asking that Stafford be examined by two or three psychiatrists or doctors to determine if she is mentally fit to face a jury, according to the motion.
Prosecutors made the same request immediately after Stafford’s arrest, but the motion was denied by Hancock County Superior Court 1 Judge Terry Snow.
Stafford has struggled with mental health issues since her son, Logan, was killed in a car accident in 2012, Schoen wrote in her request. She also was briefly hospitalized for mental health issues in the past two months, court documents state.
After her arrest, Stafford told Snow she was seeing a therapist regularly.
Police began investigating Stafford after the Fortville couple reported receiving threatening phone calls and text messages from Stafford. A relative of Stafford’s had moved in with the couple, and Stafford was upset about the new living situation, court documents state.
Stafford had “become increasingly hostile” with each new exchange, leading the couple to block Stafford’s work and personal cellphone numbers, police said.
At one point, Stafford told a relative “she was going to apply for a gun permit and get a gun, and she was going to kill (the couple’s) children,” according to court documents.
When officers confronted Stafford about the allegations, she admitted she had threatened to burn the family’s house down, but she said had no intention of going through with it, court records state.
Stafford served as Fortville’s clerk-treasurer from 2012 to the end of 2015. Her term in office was plagued by criticism from town officials, who cited issues with the town’s books.
If Schoen’s request is approved by Snow, Stafford will meet with doctors who can evaluate her actions and diagnose her if needed, officials have said.
Because psychological evaluations are considered medical examinations, the results are not public record.
Schoen did not return calls for comment, and Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said he could not comment on a motion that is pending with the court.
Stafford, who did not return calls for comment, is scheduled to appear in court again on March 1. Each Level 6 felony charge of intimidation she faces carries a penalty of six months to two and a half years and up to $10,000 in fines.