A Scott County judge on Wednesday ordered a competency evaluation for a Texas woman charged in connection with a deadly crash in downtown Davenport in January.
The evaluation will help the court determine whether Lauria Lee Kelly, 57, of Alvarado, is fit to stand trial on one count of homicide by vehicle-reckless driving in the death of Cynthia Elaine Jones.
“I think there’s enough evidence on the record that the court is concerned about your being in touch with reality or not at the time that this occurred and possibly now, too,” Judge Mary Howes told Kelly during a 10-minute hearing in Scott County District Court.
If Kelly is found to be unfit for trial, the proceeding against her will halt until her competency can be restored.
Kelly has been in custody at the Scott County Jail following the crash that occurred just before 6 p.m. Jan. 30.
Police say Kelly was driving her blue 2005 Dodge truck east on 2nd Street at a high rate of speed.
Witnesses to the crash and events leading up to it told police that Kelly was driving very fast and that she ran through at least two red traffic lights, one at 2nd and Harrison streets and the other at 2nd and Main streets, according to police.
One witness, who was crossing 2nd Street at Brady, said she heard the roar of an engine just prior to the crash, according to police.
Kelly's vehicle struck the rear of a red Chevrolet Monte Carlo that was stopped at the red light at 2nd and Brady. The force of the impact caused fatal injuries to Jones, 53, of Davenport.
The Monte Carlo then was pushed into the rear of a green 1999 Buick Regal that was in front of it. The force of the crash was so great that all three vehicles came to a rest on the other side of the intersection more than 100 feet away, according to police.
Kelly and the driver of the Buick were taken to a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
Kelly was arrested after her release from the hospital and taken to the Scott County Jail, according to the affidavit.
According to an application filed in support of a search warrant in the case, a certified drug recognition expert examined Kelly and noted that she showed multiple signs and symptoms of impairment, including dilated and watery eyes, unsteadiness, quick slurred speech and jerky and fumbled movements.
She also had a "distorted sense of reality" and believed the "Order of the Masons" was chasing her, according to the application.
No alcohol or illegal drugs were found in her system, according to prosecutors.
Howes herself requested the evaluation of Kelly based on what she said she read in the minutes of testimony, which contains a summary of the evidence.
Howes said Kelly did not appear to “be in tune with reality to time and place and what was going on that day.”
Kelly’s attorney, Harlan Giese Jr., said he was advised by a doctor at the jail and other personnel that there was concern about his client’s mental state.
Kelly disagreed Wednesday and told the judge, “I’m not delusional, ma’am.”
Kelly claimed that an officer had approached her in the jail, told her he was a Mason, and said “we know who you are and we know where you’re going” and that “we’re nationwide, you can’t stop us.”
She said she took it as a threat.
Kelly said she had been rattled by the crash when asked by Howes about her statements about the Masons and “religious delusions” reported by witnesses.
“I had seven broke ribs and, of course, they cut me out of my truck and I realized that somebody got killed and I’m sorry for that,” she said through tears. “I did not mean for that to happen. I did not come to this state or to this town for someone to get killed. I mean that with all my heart.”
Giese on March 29 filed a notice of intention to seek a defense of insanity or diminished capacity at trial. He told the judge that he filed the notice in order to “preserve that right” and reiterated that Kelly did not believe she was delusional.
Howes said a hearing will be held regarding Kelly's competency once the evaluation is completed and filed with the court.
After the judge made her ruling, Kelly looked out towards Jones’ family in the courtroom gallery and apologized and said, “Please, forgive me.”
Jones’ sister, Lesa Dixon, said after the hearing, “Let the will of the Lord be done in this case.”