Judge orders defendant in molestation case tested for competency

Monday, December 24, 2007

A judge ordered that Kerri Cassett, accused of molesting a 12-year-old, to get a mental evaluation to determine if she's competent to stand trial.

Cassett, 31, Fort Scott, was supposed to have a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Bourbon County Court. Instead, her defense attorney, Mark Fern, filed a motion asking for the court to determine her competency.

The defense council believes Cassett, because of mental illness, won't be able to properly assist in the preparation and the making of her defense. Also, the defense asked that all pending matters in the case be suspended until the defendant can be examined by mental health professionals and a decision can be reached on whether they believe she's competent to stand trial.

Cassett will undergo the examination at the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center in Fort Scott.

Cassett has been accused of "lewd fondling and touching" of a 12 year-old. In June, the Bourbon County Attorney charged her with one felony count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child that carries a prison term of 25 years to life. At the time of the alleged incident, the child was 11 years old. No other details of the case have been made public in court records.

Cassett is currently in custody at the Southeast Kansas Regional Correctional Center in Fort Scott in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Cassett and Bourbon County Attorney Terri Johnson were in plea negotiations in October, and an offer was made. However, the defense needed more time to speak to a key witness in the case.

The defense later rejected the plea offer and asked for a preliminary hearing.