Murder case on hold for state hospital admission in November

Kenney must understand charges against him to proceed

A potential murder trial for 34-year-old Bret Allen Kenney remains on hold until he can be admitted this November to Western State Hospital for his competency to be restored.

Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, said in Clallam County Superior Court on Friday that her legal assistant contacted the hospital and learned Kenney’s on an admission list in about three months.

Kenney’s defense attorney John Hayden said the delay was “wholly inappropriate.”

“That’s just not OK,” he said.

Kenney is accused of murdering his mother, 53-year-old Teri Ward of Sequim, and attempting to kill Sequim Police Officer Daniel Martinez at a routine traffic stop in mid-May.

Competency order

The court order for competency mandates that Kenney understand the nature of the charges against him and possible consequences, how the criminal justice system works and if he can help with his defense.

At Friday’s hearing, Kenney attempted to read an indecipherable statement from a piece of paper and was muted on Zoom by Judge Brent Basden.

Devlin suggested they continue to do monthly checks on Kenney’s admission to the hospital. Basden agreed and set a hearing update for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 19.

On June 24, Basden ordered Kenney’s admission to Western State Hospital in Lakewood for competency restoration.

Previously, Dr. Barry Ward, a psychologist with the Office of Forensic Mental Health Services Peninsula Regional Office, recommended competency restoration after an interview earlier in June, which was cut short.

Kenney halted the interview prior to forensic interviews because Ward used shorthand to take notes and Kenney wanted him to write all of his words fully, according to court documents.

Ward reported that Kenney holds “capacity to understand the nature of the proceedings but lacks capacity to help in his own defense due to mental disorder.”

Kenney has been admitted to Western State Hospital four previous times with his last admission in September 2017, court documents state, and psychologists diagnosed him with schizophrenia, unspecified; stimulant use disorder; and alcohol use disorder.

Ward was found deceased with multiple sharp-force injuries on her neck on May 19 in her home west of Sequim after a requested welfare check by her sister, court documents state.

Kenney was living with Ward after being released from incarceration on Jan. 14.

He was pulled over at the Third Avenue and Washington Street intersection by Martinez at 4:31 a.m. on May 19, court documents state.

Multiple law enforcement agencies report Kenney tackled Martinez during the stop and they fought with Martinez’s gun discharging in the scuffle. Kenney was detained by nearby citizens and Clallam County Sheriff deputies, court documents stated, and he has four prior cases of assault on police officers.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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