The young Montrose boy accused of fatally shooting a woman last December has been deemed incompetent to proceed at this time, because he does not understand the legal process sufficiently to be able to participate in his own defense.
The boy was 11 when he allegedly shot Karmen Keefauver in her Shavano Valley Road home on Dec. 19, 2020. The boy was related to Keefauver and reportedly called 911 after she was shot.
Keefauver, 62, later died at the hospital.
A few weeks after the death, the child was charged as a juvenile with second-degree murder and as an aggravated juvenile offender.
Information about the case particulars is limited.
The defendant’s competency status does not pertain to mental health, or guilt or innocence, but to his ability to understand his attorney and meaningfully participate in his defense, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jessica Waggoner said.
In general, once a defendant has been determined to be incompetent, the prosecution or the defense can object and ask for further evaluation. “That did not happen here. Both parties agreed with the recommendations by the state,” Waggoner said.
The child is to have a review hearing every 30 days so the court can hear how rehabilitative efforts are going. The next hearing is set for May 11. It is possible he could ultimately be deemed as restored to competency.
“Everyone gets the option to have rehabilitative therapy. That will include (the child). He will get that option,” Waggoner said.
Although the child’s age prompted concern, the competency finding was based on a multi-tiered evaluation and his age was not the sole determinant, she said.
The case will proceed more slowly as a result of the current competency finding. “But it also opens different avenues you can go,” Waggoner said. “When an adult or juvenile is determined to be incompetent, and after a certain period of time to rehabilitate the person, there are ways to put them in the civil system (such as dependency and neglect filing through Health and Human Services) to make sure … they are getting the help they need.”
Juvenile offenders who are found responsible for an offense such as second-degree murder can be held for three to five years in the Department of Youth Services.
Upon release, a collaborative group of professionals from schools, Human Services and the justice system develop a release plan to help transition him or her back into the community so the child can be as successful as possible.
The suspect in Keefauver’s death remains in custody of DYS. Waggoner said Keefauver’s family is receiving assistance and information through a victim rights advocate.
“The juvenile justice system is a little different than it is for adults. It’s not as much about punishment. The kid can’t be in the system forever. The goal is to ultimately bring him back into the community he can be productive in,” Waggoner said.
“It’s difficult for them (family), because he’s family, but she’s their mom, or daughter, or sister. The family has been really strong. Not all of the family feels the same way, but they are working together to get through it as best they can, for sure.”
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.