Psychiatrist says triple murder suspect could be competent for trial with right medication

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STROUDSBURG, Pennsylvania — A man accused of killing three people at a municipal meeting in northeastern Pennsylvania is not competent to stand trial, a psychiatrist testified Friday.

Rockne Newell could be competent with medication, but he has refused to take medication at the jail and has not been helpful in aiding his attorneys, according to Dr. Richard Fischbein, who testified for the defense.

Another psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Mechanick, testified for the prosecution that he believes Newell is mentally fit to stand trial.

Newell, 60, is charged with fatally shooting three people and wounding a fourth at a Ross Township supervisors meeting in 2013. Police said he was upset after losing his property.

Defense lawyers cited Newell's long history of mental illness and asked that he be placed in a psychiatric hospital for treatment. They said he refuses to discuss with them what happened at the township meeting, instead rambling about conditions at the jail.

"It's difficult keeping him on course and on track," defense lawyer Michael Weinstein told reporters outside court.

A judge did not immediately rule on Newell's competency. A decision is expected within a few weeks.

Newell appeared to sleep through part of Friday's hearing at the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg.

Newell, who has lost at least 75 pounds during his incarceration, complained to the judge that the jail hasn't been feeding him properly.

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