Minister to have mental evaluation — (Battle Creek Enquirer)

SSRI Ed note: Man on Zoloft & other meds tries to murder wife and neighbor, kills dog.

Original article no longer available

Battle Creek Enquirer

By Trace Christenson, the Enquirer

July 21, 2003

Defense attorney blames medication for alleged attacks on wife, neighbor, dog

Sandum – A Battle Creek minister charged with stabbing his wife and a neighbor will undergo a mental evaluation. The Rev. Charles R. Sandum, 67, will be evaluated at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti to determine if he understands the charges against him. The examination is based on an agreement between his attorney and Calhoun County Prosecutor John Hallacy.
Sandum is charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder and one count of cruelty to animals. Battle Creek police have alleged that Sandum stabbed his wife, Carol, 62, and killed his dog at their home Dec. 31. They said he then went next door and cut his neighbor, Valerie Barnaby, 37, before walking to his car that was parked in the driveway and waiting for police. Neither woman was seriously injured.
Sandum, who retired from Lakeview Baptist Church, was scheduled to appear in Calhoun County District Court on Tuesday for a preliminary examination. However, his defense attorney, J. Thomas Schaeffer of Marshall, reached an agreement with Hallacy and asked Judge John Holmes to adjourn the hearing until Sandum could be evaluated.
After the attack, Sandum’s family and friends have said that his behavior was not normal and he was experiencing some mental health problems, possibly caused by medication. Sandum had heart problems and was treated for depression, including spending three weeks in the Fieldstone Center in November.
Police said Sandum was taking Zoloft for depression, Tenormin for his heart and hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure. Schaeffer said Tuesday he asked for the evaluation “because I think that is the appropriate procedure because he didn’t commit a crime. Whatever happened is directly related to the prescribed medication.” Schaeffer said Sandum has been moved from the county jail to the Fieldstone Center for treatment, which Hallacy agreed to when Sandum was arraigned Jan. 2. Bond was set at $40,000, which Schaeffer said has not been posted. Its not known when he will be evaluated in Ypsilanti, although it’s not expected for several weeks. Trace Christenson covers crime and courts. He can be reached at 966-0685 or tchrist@battlecr.gannett.-com