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Daily Press (Newport News, VA)

 December 21, 2000

 Author: SONJA BARISIC The Associated Press

A stockbroker accused of gunning down his former boss at a downtown office building will have a February hearing on whether he is competent to stand trial.

A psychiatrist who evaluated Joseph H. Ludlam Jr. at Central State Hospital found him able to understand the charges and assist in his defense. But Ludlam’s lawyer told a judge Wednesday that other observations made by the psychiatrist raised questions about Ludlam’s competency.

The pyschiatrist’s report noted that Ludlam said he has heard good and evil voices command him to do things and that he had recent thoughts about harming himself, attorney Andrew Sacks said.

“A client whose mind is impeded by thoughts of suicide is not competent, I would suggest, to stand trial,” Sacks said.

The report also said that during the evaluation, Ludlam’s demeanor alternated between hostile and polite, his thinking was sometimes tangential and his mood was at times somber and sad. Sacks also said that since the report was not faxed to him until Tuesday, he needs time to examine it thoroughly, discuss it with Ludlam and obtain an independent evaluation.

General District Judge Ray W. Dezern Jr. agreed to hold a competency hearing Feb. 6. If Ludlam is found competent, he will have a preliminary hearing Feb. 21.

Dezern ordered the evaluation at Central State last month at Sacks’ request. Ludlam was taken to the hospital near Petersburg but returned to a local jail sometime within the last week, Sacks said outside court.

Sacks said Ludlam, the valedictorian of his high school class and a former Navy combat pilot, became a troubled man who is taking many medications, including Prozac and lithium. Ludlam was diagnosed previously with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression.

Ludlam, 37, of Portsmouth, is charged with murder and use of a firearm in the Nov. 7 slaying of Timothy K. O’Shaughnessy, 40, who fired him a month earlier from First Union Securities.

Ludlam surrendered to police after an 18-hour standoff at his parents’ house in Conway, S.C. An order by a judge in Horry County, S.C., said Ludlam had been judged to be mentally ill and that he should be committed to a state mental health facility when sent back to Virginia.

Record Number:  0012210073