Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Dade City man accused of stabbing caseworker found incompetent for trial

DADE CITY — The man accused of fatally stabbing a medical caseworker last year has been found incompetent to stand trial.

Lucious Smith, who was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in the Dec. 10 stabbing of Stephanie Nicole Ross of Lakeland, will be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment, said Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia. If Smith's competency can be restored, a trial would be scheduled.

Competency means that defendants understand the charges against them as well as the role of defense attorneys and prosecutors and can assist in their defense. It is a separate matter from whether the defendant is not guilty of the charges against him by reason of insanity.

Two weeks ago, Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa postponed a competency hearing so psychologists for the state and defense could review Smith's medical records from the Land O'Lakes jail. Two defense psychologists who had evaluated Smith said he was incompetent, but the state's expert said his evaluation showed otherwise. However, a followup evaluation by the state psychologist showed Smith to be incompetent.

Ross, 25, had visited Smith at his 37020 Coleman Ave. apartment several times and was alone during the fatal visit. Her job was to make sure Smith, who is on medication, was receiving the health care he needed.

Witnesses saw Ross screaming as she ran from the apartment. Smith chased after her, slashing at her with a butcher knife, according to Dade City police. A stranger rushed Ross to the hospital, where she died later that day.

Police said Ross had written in case notes that she felt uncomfortable visiting Smith alone and two people should go on future visits. Her employer, Integra Health Management, said managers were unaware of any safety concerns.

Smith's record includes theft, disorderly conduct, aggravated assault, trespassing and intoxication. His last arrest was in 2005 for violating probation on a prior battery charge.

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