Coates’ competency to be evaluated — The Courier-Journal

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The Courier-Journal

July 17, 2003

By GREGORY A. HALL   ghall@courier-journal.com

An Irvington man accused of sexually preying on young girls in department stores in Ashland and West Virginia before he was arrested yesterday in Louisville will be evaluated to determine if he is mentally competent to participate in his own defense.
Allen Dwayne Coates, 37, has been charged with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl July 12 at a Target store in South Charleston, W.Va. and an attempted attack on a 9-year-old girl July 11 in an Ashland Wal-Mart.
In both cases, according to police, a girl was approached by a man who claimed to be a store security guard and who told the girl that she was suspected of shoplifting. The West Virginia assault prompted national media attention, which aired footage of a man leading the girl through the store.
Coates’ arraignment this morning in Jefferson District Court was to begin the extradition process to West Virginia to face charges there, but Coates’ attorney, Fred Radolovich, requested the examination to determine whether his client understands the proceedings.
Competency “is critical at every stage of the proceeding, even at this stage,” Radolovich told Jefferson District Judge William Ryan. Although Assistant Jefferson County Attorney Rich O’Malley questioned the need for an evaluation, Ryan ordered the competency examination and set a hearing for Sept. 4 to consider the findings.
Coates, who wore an orange jail jumpsuit, said nothing; but he cried and held his hand over his mouth during the proceeding.
Radolovich said outside the courtroom that Coates was “as coherent as he’s been in the last two days” and has trouble comprehending what’s going on or discussing the allegations. Coates doesn’t remember the stores or South Charleston, but remembers traveling to that area of the country, Radolovich said. Coates has taken the anti-depression medication Zoloft, Radolovich said.
The bonds of $500,000 from West Virginia and $200,000 from Boyd County remain in place.
The competency evaluation might not prevent Boyd County authorities from taking Coates out of Jefferson County, since both are in Kentucky.
Radolovich said he will request that Boyd County officials wait until Coates’ competency is resolved. Attempts to reach the Boyd County commonwealth’s attorney this morning were unsuccessful.
The evaluation could either be done at the Jefferson County jail or the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in LaGrange.
Louisville police and FBI agents arrested Coates yesterday after he left Radolovich’s office. Radolovich said Coates was heading then to University Hospital to be voluntarily committed for psychiatric treatment.
Jail documents list Coates as “suicidal.”