Judge deciding on suspect’s competency

WARREN – A judge is considering reports from three mental health experts who examined Patrick Lawson Heltzel, accused of murder, for competency.

Two of the reports say the 21-year-old Heltzel is not competent to stand trial and a third report says he is competent.

Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan will decide whether to push forward with a schedule leading to a trial or to hospitalize Heltzel in an effort to restore competency.

Tests for competency determine if Heltzel is capable of understanding the court proceedings and able to aid in his own defense. The defendant faces a maximum of life in prison with no chance of parole.

Heltzel, who is being held in lieu of $2 million bond, was charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery in the stabbing of an elderly man in Warren Township.

Heltzel’s attorney also has filed a motion for a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which is a matter that is to be considered later by any jury that hears the case. The plea suggests that Heltzel was insane at the time of the crime.

Heltzel, of Atlantic Street N.E., is accused of killing 71-year-old Milton A. Grumbling III, whose body was found April 4 inside his home at 4464 Kincaid East Road N.W., Warren Township. Prosecutors have declined to say what was stolen from Grumbling.

Heltzel was charged with murder within a day after a prosecutor’s complaint. He had driven to North Carolina, where police there picked him up April 5. Warren Township police had issued an alert for him and a vehicle he took from his father.

Grumbling had been stabbed, including multiple wounds to the heart, according to an affidavit filed April 5 by prosecutors. He also had facial fractures and broken dentures, and a broken remote control was lying beneath his face, the document states.

Police said initially that the elderly man was known for helping disadvantaged people, especially youths. Although Grumbling lived alone, periodically he took people into his home.