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State/Region

October 19, 2013

Teen faces trial in mother’s death

TULSA — A Tulsa County judge has ordered a teenager accused of beating his mother to death with a shotgun to be tried for first-degree murder.

Henry “Hank” Laird, 17, is charged as an adult in the death of his mother, Linda Laird, 56. She was found dead on Jan. 22 at the base of a staircase in the home she shared with her son.

A medical examiner determined that Linda Laird died from blunt force trauma injuries to her head and neck. Her parents told police that Hank Laird was at the residence when they arrived and found her body.

Hank Laird was ordered to trial on Thursday, the Tulsa World reports. Court records indicate his juvenile record includes three domestic assault-and-battery cases involving his mother.

He has an extensive history of behavioral health treatment but does not “evidence any pervasive signs of mental illness,” according to an Aug. 14 report by forensic psychologist Shawn Roberson.

A court document filed in May by defense attorney Gregg Graves asserted that Laird could not assist in his legal defense. He was found to be mentally competent to face prosecution.

The mental competency exam tests whether a person can appreciate the nature of the charges, consult with legal counsel and assist in his own defense.

That is different from insanity, where the focus is on whether a defendant could distinguish right from wrong and appreciate the consequences of his actions at the time of an alleged offense.

Josiah Sklar, 20, who is charged with being an accessory to the murder after the fact, testified at a preliminary hearing that he was at the residence and saw Hank Laird beat his mother in the head with the butt of a gun.

Sklar is accused of helping conceal Laird from being apprehended while knowing he had committed murder.

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