Man accused in fatal diner shooting ordered to undergo evaluation

Thursday, October 20th 2005, 7:37 am
By: News On 6

PAWHUSKA, Okla. (AP) A man accused of fatally shooting a waitress during the lunch rush at a Hominy diner must undergo a mental evaluation, an Osage County judge has ruled.

A preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence for Roy Westbrook to stand trial for the shooting death of Rebecca Clements, 26, was supposed to begin Wednesday but was postponed after the competency ruling.

Westbrook testified that the term ``first-degree murder'' didn't make sense to him.

``I have heard the term,'' he told Special District Judge John S. Boggs. Westbrook also said he understood the punishment for the murder charge was either a life sentence or the death penalty.

``I don't know if I could help them (attorneys),'' Westbrook said, referring to his lack of knowledge of legal terminology.

Westbrook also testified that he received Social Security disability and had a third-grade reading level.

Boggs ordered Westbrook to undergo a competency evaluation at Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita.

Prosecutors allege the 63-year-old walked into the Hominy Diner on July 19 and shot Clements three times with a handgun he had purchased at a pawnshop that morning, according to an affidavit.

Westbrook may have shot Clements in retaliation for a letter Clements wrote to an Osage County newspaper in which she defended her sister, who was renting a house from Westbrook and had fallen behind on payments, authorities said.

Clements' family members wept and comforted each other during the hearing. They declined to comment.

Westbrook's sister, Judy Marrs, and Westbrook's partner, Larry Young, testified that he wasn't competent to understand the legal proceedings or help his attorney with his defense.

A teary-eyed Marrs said while her ``heart goes out to the victim,'' her brother is not the same person as he was before the shooting.

Defense attorney Gentner Drummond said after the hearing that witnesses saw Westbrook at two bars on the morning of the shooting, but his blood-alcohol level wasn't tested.

``I think his intent was maybe to scare her (Clements),'' the attorney said.

District Attorney Larry Stuart said he hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty.