A competency hearing has been delayed for Robert Wayne Reynolds, the man charged with first-degree murder in the death of Martinsville resident Katherine White Likens.
The hearing, which most recently had been set for Monday in Martinsville General District Court, was rescheduled primarily because of an issue involving service of a subpoena on the correct court date. Dr. Maria Szerdelova, a clinical psychologist at Central State Hospital, was unable to attend the hearing.
Judge Joan Ziglar rescheduled for 4 p.m. on Oct. 21.
Reynolds, 54, of 103 Maple Street, Martinsville, remains mentally incompetent to stand trial and is being treated at Central State, a mental hospital in Petersburg.
Under Virginia law, a defendant may be declared mentally incompetent to stand trial if he “lacks substantial capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist his attorney in his defense.”
Martinsville Commonwealth’s Attorney Andy Hall said in an interview Monday that the purpose of the court hearing is to question Dr. Szerdelova “in regard to specifics of Mr. Reynolds’ treatment.” Hall said that both he and Reynolds’ lawyer, Mike Nicholas, had requested the hearing and want to question Szerdelova.
“Without getting into specifics, I think we were both concerned about the fact that … there doesn’t appear to be any change in his condition, and they’ve had him for quite some time. It’s over two years,” Hall said.
“I’m not being critical of anything, but it’s one thing to give a report. I think it’s another to actually speak to the doctor one-on-one, in this instance, in open court to discuss his treatment.”
He said Szerdelova has authored three reports so far on Reynolds’ treatment at Central State and that he expects the fourth (and most updated) report will have been completed by Oct. 21.
In April, Hall had said that the most recent report at that time indicated that Reynolds “is incompetent, but they are confident that they can restore him.”
According to documents in Martinsville General District Court and Martinsville Circuit Court, Likens on July 11, 2017, had requested and received a protective order against Reynolds.
In that criminal complaint, Likens alleged that Reynolds, whom she had dated, told her he would kill her, that he was going to use a hammer when he did it and that she feared for her safety after being orally attacked by him at her job.
Likens, 53, was reported missing about 12:21 p.m. on July 13, with police being told she never returned home after her night shift at Rania’s restaurant. Martinsville police found her body roughly four hours later in a wooded area between Ellsworth Street and Cleveland Avenue.
On July 14 the medical examiner’s office determined that the cause of Likens’ death was blunt force trauma to the head.
Before she had left work on the night of her death, Likens was overheard by witnesses at Rania’s arguing with Reynolds on her cell phone, according to the criminal complaint. A neighbor reported that she had received a phone call from Likens when she got off work on July 12, saying she was supposed to be on the way home, but she never arrived.
Video surveillance in the area showed that, after getting off work, Likens went to Sparky’s Food Store. She left the store about 10:10 p.m., at which point the video shows her walking toward the BB&T building, near the small wooded area behind the bank. That’s where her body was found.
Just before that, video surveillance obtained by the Martinsville Police Department showed two men walking across Market Street from Reynolds’ residence. This was at 9:50 p.m.
One of the two men was pushing a bicycle, and the other was identified as Reynolds. According to the criminal complaint, the man pushing the bicycle told police he was heading to the store to buy a beer and ran into Reynolds.
After they talked for a few minutes, Reynolds told him he was going to get some money to buy a beer, the witness said. He told police he left Reynolds within 200 yards of that wooded spot behind BB&T, which was a common area for Reynolds and Likens to meet when she ended her shift, witnesses told police. Often, they said, she would give him her tip money from working at the restaurant.
It was unclear, however, if Likens had agreed to meet Reynolds or if she was just walking through the area. Her neighbors told police that Likens had planned to extend the protective order on July 13, a plan of which they said Reynolds was aware. They also told police that Reynolds knew her routine and the routes she took to and from work.
That same video surveillance that recorded Likens walking toward the wooded area showed Reynolds leaving that spot at 10:21 p.m. by himself. Multiple people in Likens’ apartment building also reported seeing Reynolds walking back from that area to his residence at that time.
After police found the body of Likens, the criminal complaint said, they spoke with Reynolds, who said he had been at his house all night. On July 14 Martinsville police executed a search warrant at Reynolds’ apartment and seized a pair of cut-off jean shorts consistent with those Reynolds was seen wearing in the video.
In the criminal complaint, police officials mentioned that multiple spots of red stain, consistent with blood, were found on the shorts. They also seized multiple wash cloths from the house, a bundle of clothes, a wooden stick and some black high-top tennis shoes before charging Reynolds with first-degree murder.
Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.