Edward ‘Dale’ Bagshaw’s murder trial delayed after defense objects to court-appointed psychiatrist
By Charlie White
Jan 17, 2013
The murder case against Edward “Dale” Bagshaw was delayed until at least Friday after a last-minute objection by his defense attorney over the possibility of the court-appointed psychiatrist having a conflict of interest.
Bagshaw, 47, is accused of using a pocketknife to stab his estranged wife, Kelly Bagshaw, 30, dozens of times inside her car near his Jeffersonville apartment, where she had come to pick up their two young children.
The final witness slated to testify before closing arguments Wednesday was Dr. Steven Shelton, a psychiatrist who took the stand after two hours of deliberations between defense and prosecuting attorneys in Judge Vicki Carmichael’s chambers.
Before the jury was brought into the courtroom, Bagshaw’s attorney, Perry McCall questioned Shelton, who has a contract to treat inmates at Clark County’s jail, about whether he treated Bagshaw as a patient before the court appointed him to evaluate Bagshaw for the murder trial.
Shelton testified that he had treated Bagshaw in jail Nov. 23, 2011, about a week before he performed the court-ordered mental evaluation. Some of Shelton’s initial findings were included in his final report to the court.
Shelton said he sees how it “could be perceived as a conflict of interest,” adding that even though he was privvy to prior information, “I think I can be impartial.”
McCall continued to object to Shelton’s testimony, saying he was concerned that “it’s not an independent opinion,” if the evaluation was performed by someone who had prior knowledge.
Before the trial, McCall entered an insanity defense, which under Indiana state law requires the court to appoint two or three “competent disinterested psychiatrists, psychologists endorsed by the state psychology board as health service providers in psychology, or physicians, at least one of whom must be a psychiatrist, to examine the defendant and to testify at the trial.”
Jeremy Mull, Clark County’s chief deputy prosecutor, argued that Shelton’s findings on Bagshaw’s mental state — that he was depressed but not insane — have been available for more than a year.
“We are, after all, trying to get a true sense of his mental status. … This is a truth-finding process,” Mull said.
After more deliberations between the attorneys and the judge in chambers, the trial was recessed until at least Friday as the court looks for another psychiatrist to evaluate Bagshaw.
None of the three professionals who examined Bagshaw — Shelton, court-appointed psychologist Heather Henderson-Galligan and Dr. George Parker, an Indiana University School of Medicine forensic psychiatrist — reported that Bagshaw was insane.
Parker concluded that Bagshaw likely suffered dissociative amnesia, a mental disorder where someone can’t recall traumatic events.
McCall said he didn’t learn of the possibility of a conflict of interest until Tuesday, when Parker brought it to his attention.
After Judge Carmichael granted McCall’s objection to Shelton on Wednesday, Mull reiterated that he doesn’t believe there was a conflict.
Mull also believes McCall could have made the objection before the last day of the trial and he doubts that an accurate mental evaluation can be made since so much time has passed after the alleged murder, which Bagshaw confessed to committing.
“This process is not one I have faith in going forward, as far as that we’re going to be able to get a fair evaluation based on him sitting in the courtroom hearing all of this,” Mull said.
Besides insanity, the other main question in the case is whether it was murder or manslaughter, specifically whether Kelly Bagshaw provoked Dale Bagshaw to “sudden heat.”
McCall argued that text messages between the Bagshaws show the lengthy turbulent history of their marriage ending, including arguments over the custody of their two young children. Mull said the texts reaffirmed earlier testimony that she wanted out of the marriage and he wouldn’t let her go.
The Indiana Supreme Court has defined sudden heat as: “anger, rage, resentment or terror sufficient to obscure the reason of an ordinary person, preventing deliberation and premeditation, excluding malice, and rendering a person incapable of cool reflection.”
In insanity defense cases, the jury has four verdict options: guilty; not guilty; not responsible by reason of insanity at the time of the crime; or guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime.
If the jury finds he was guilty due to “sudden heat,” that would reduce the maximum 65-year murder sentence to one of no more than 50 years.