Kundrat to stay in jail until hearing – Competency hearing tentatively set for Nov. 29 for woman who allegedly drove car into Old Depot — (Record-Eagle)

Original article no longer available


November 16, 2001

By DAN SANDERSON, Record-Eagle staff writer

GAYLORD – Cynthia Louise Kundrat will remain in jail while she awaits a hearing to determine whether she is competent to stand trial on charges that she killed two people when she rammed her car into a Johannesburg restaurant four months ago.
District Judge Patricia Morse denied a request Thursday from Kundrat’s attorney to have her moved from the Otsego County Jail to a mental health facility because she is suicidal.
Authorities have never released a motive for the crash. But in a statement to state police after the accident, Kundrat said she was trying to commit suicide.
She told police she was driving at 60 to 70 mph and steered the car between parked vehicles to hit the front door of restaurant.
“I figured if I ran into the building, my car would just crunch up and I would die,” Kundrat said in a taped statement to police.
Kundrat said she was depressed after she was fired from her job at a Gaylord gas station weeks before the accident. She was taking Prozac prescribed by a family doctor and had tried to drown herself in Big Lake about a month prior to the accident.
State police said Kundrat raced around the curve on M-32 in Johannesburg around noon on July 29 and rammed her car through the front of the Old Depot Restaurant. Teagan Ferlaak, 4, of Gaylord, and Margaret Koronka, 29, of Johannesburg, died from injuries sustained in the accident.
Eight others were injured in the crash.
Defense attorney Robert Carey said Kundrat has tried to commit suicide every day in jail.  “There is no doubt in my mind that she is mentally ill and a person
that requires treatment,” Carey said. “Being shackled in a cell in not the way to handle it.”
Kundrat faces eight felony charges, including two counts of manslaughter with a motor vehicle, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Prosecutor Kevin Hesselink argued that Carey should have petitioned in probate court to have Kundrat placed in a mental health facility. Two doctors would then have to exam Kundrat, he said.
“I don’t know how the court can, or why it should, get involved in that process,” he said.   Hesselink said Kundrat is being observed at the county jail and has access to treatment through Community Mental Health.
Carey said he believed the court has jurisdiction over Kundrat and that she should be placed in mental health facility because of reports from the
sheriff’s department and her husband, Patrick Kundrat, that she is “deteriorating and in the worst shape she has ever been.”
Kundrat has been voluntarily admitted and released from two mental health facilities – Pointe East in Alpena and Lockwood MacDonald Hospital in Petoskey. A competency hearing tentatively has been set for Nov. 29, pending receipt of the results of a forensic evaluation to determine if she is
competent to stand trial and understands the criminal charges against her.
In denying Carey’s request to lower Kundrat’s $10,000 bond so that she could be move, Morse said she didn’t know what good it would do to have Kundrat evaluated for a fourth time.
 “Jail may not be the most comfortable place for her, but she is in a secure environment and she is not able to hurt herself or another person where she is currently being housed,” Morse said.
Dressed in a orange jail shorts and top and wearing socks with no shoes or sandals, Kundrat sat in court with her hands handcuffed to a chain around
her waste. She asked Morse if she could say something at the end of the hearing, but she was told to speak through her attorney.
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