Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Dade City man remains incompetent to face murder charge

DADE CITY A man accused of stabbing a medical caseworker to death in December 2012 won't face trial any time soon because he remains incompetent.

Lucious Edward Smith, who has a history of mental illness, has been in custody since last year on a first-degree murder charge. A recent psychiatric evaluation prompted Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa to find that he remains incompetent to stand trial. Defendants are incompetent if they are unable to understand the charges against them and assist in their defense.

Smith, 53, is accused in the Dec. 10, 2012, stabbing of Stephanie Nicole Ross, a 25-year-old caseworker for a health management company under contract with Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor and disabled. Ross, of Lakeland, had visited Smith at his Coleman Avenue apartment several times and was alone during the Dec. 10 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 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.

Dade City police said Ross had made notes in her case file that expressed safety concerns and said no one should visit Smith alone. Her employer has said they were unaware of safety concerns.

The federal The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Ross' employer, Integra Health Management of Owings Mills, Md., and levied fines of $10,500.

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