Attorney unsure about using insanity defense

Thursday, June 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- An attorney for a man accused of killing three people in three states said Wednesday he is not sure whether he will use an insanity defense when his client is tried in Tennessee.

"We're looking at all our options," Thomas Strawn, attorney for Steven Ray Thacker, said of the potential defense strategy. "Idon't know at this point whether we are or not" going to use the insanity defense.

Thacker, of Chouteau, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Dyersburg, Tenn., wrecker service operator Ray Patterson, 52, on Jan. 2, and with the fatal stabbing of Aldrich, Mo., supervisor Forrest Reed Boyd, 24, on Jan. 1.

Thacker also is charged with the first-degree murder of Laci Dawn Hill, who was found dead Dec. 29 in an abandoned Mayes County shack six days after she was reported missing from her Bixby home.

Thacker's attorneys on March 22 filed notice of their intent to use an insanity defense. But no evidence of Thacker's purported insanity has been introduced to the Dyer County, Tenn., Circuit Court, which heard non-evidentiary motions in the case Tuesday, prosecutor Phillip Bivens said.

Strawn said Thacker's defense team, which also includes Dyersburg attorney Charles Kelly, will decide whether to mount an insanity defense before his next court date Aug. 25.
Dyer County Circuit Judge Lee Moore declined Tuesday to rule on a defense motion asking for a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation of Thacker, Strawn said.

"Both parties agreed that it was premature," he said. "The reasons behind that I can't go into."

Strawn did indicate that he intends to seek a change of venue for Thacker.

"Obviously, the case has received a lot of undue publicity here," he said. "It might be difficult to find some jurors who haven't been tainted in this community."

Gene Haynes, district attorney for Mayes, Rogers and Craig counties in Oklahoma, has said any insanity defense proposal in Tennessee likely would not affect Thacker's prosecution in Oklahoma.

Following the Tennessee trial, prosecutors in Oklahoma and Missouri would have to work out an agreement on who would try Thacker next. Bivens is seeking the death penalty against Thacker, who is being held without bail in the Riverbend Correctional Facility in Nashville, Tenn.