Murder defendant's lawyers call for competency trial

Thursday, October 7th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

EUFAULA, Okla. (AP) -- A jury will determine whether Vickie
McElmurry is mentally competent to stand trial on murder charges
filed against her in the deaths of an elderly Lenna couple.

Defense attorney Wes Gibson exercised his client's right to a
jury hearing in the manner. No date for the competency hearing has
been set.

Doctors at Eastern State Hospital in Vinita have ruled that Mrs.
McElmurry is mentally competent to stand trial on two counts of
first-degree murder. The conclusion differs from the one reached by
doctors who evaluated her initially.

Those doctors questioned whether Mrs. McElmurry, 24, fully
understood the charges against her and whether she could assist in
her legal defense, Assistant District Attorney Greg Stidham said.

"But they have found, apparently through more testing, that she
can now do that," said Stidham, who would not elaborate on the
doctors' findings.

Mrs. McElmurry and her husband, Harold, are accused in the Aug.
2 slayings of 75-year-old Vivian Pendley and her 80-year-old
husband, Robert, who was a paraplegic.

The pair allegedly stabbed the couple with scissors and beat
them with a pipe, police said.

Pendley, confined to a wheelchair due to paralysis from the
waist down, was also beaten with a garden hoe, investigators said.

Authorities in Laredo, Texas, arrested the McElmurrys a few days
after the killings. They were driving the Pendleys' stolen car as
they attempted the cross the border back into the United States
from Mexico.

Texas officials say the McElmurrys confessed to killing the
Pendleys, who had hired the couple to cut brush and timber on their
property at Lenna, nine miles west of Eufaula.

If a trial is granted, testimony from doctors and family members
would be presented to jurors to consider, but Mrs. McElmurry would
not have to testify.

A preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday may be postponed
because of the competency trial request, Stidham said.