Man accused in shooting of Pennsylvania State Police trooper will get mental health evaluation
Morning Call - 2/8/2018
Feb. 08--He stared at the ceiling. He shot a glance to his defense attorney, a smile briefly crossing his face. At times, his head lolled to the side as the judge spoke of his case.
On Thursday, Daniel K. Clary was arraigned at the Northampton County Courthouse on charges he opened fire on two Pennsylvania state troopers during a traffic stop on Route 33, critically wounding one of them. His defense attorney raised the possibility of a mental-health defense, saying experts will evaluate whether he has mental conditions, and also whether he is competent to face trial.
"He had a prior brain injury," defense lawyer Janet Jackson said afterward, without further detail. "I can't really give you anything else."
Jackson anticipated the evaluations will take "several months," and said she could not yet say whether her client understood the charges against him and was able to assist in his own defense, requirements for him to go to trial.
"I don't know that," Jackson said, adding: "I'm not a mental health professional."
The Nov. 7 shooting in Plainfield Township left Cpl. Seth J. Kelly critically wounded, injuries for which he was hospitalized for nearly a month. Authorities say Kelly suffered gunshot wounds to his neck, shoulder and thigh, and may have saved his own life by applying a tourniquet on his wounded leg before paramedics arrived.
First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck has said he will be seeking a conviction and a sentence under which Clary remains in prison for the rest of his life. On Thursday, Houck said he made nothing of the defendant's demeanor in court, and believes Clary's mental health was immaterial to his alleged actions.
"There's no doubt in my mind the guy's competent. None," Houck said. "I've seen nothing that day or since that indicates he's incompetent to me."
Police said the encounter on the side of the highway started with a routine traffic stop and a suspect who acted strangely. But when Trooper Ryan Seiple and Kelly tried to arrest Clary on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, police said matters quickly took a violent turn.
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Before he allegedly retrieved a gun from his car and opened fire, Clary and the two troopers grappled on the ground, the suspect trying to grab their service handguns and continuing to struggle even after he was shocked several times with stun guns, according to police testimony.
Clary was also wounded in the melee, after Kelly and Seiple returned fire after the shooting erupted, authorities said.
After fleeing, Clary drove himself to Easton Hospital, authorities said, and was hospitalized for five days. But the Chestnuthill Township man is now being held in Northampton County Jail under $1 million bail.
He faces charges that include two counts of attempted murder of a police officer.
On Thursday, his hearing drew added security, with deputy sheriffs clearing the hallway leading to the courtroom before the shackled and handcuffed Clary was escorted inside.
His trial is scheduled for April, though President Judge Stephen Baratta said it will be delayed given the defense's needs.
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