A plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and multiple motions were discussed during an arraignment hearing for a teenager charged with killing a woman earlier this year.
Donovan A. Nicholas, 15, made his initial appearance in the Champaign County Common Pleas Court’s general division Tuesday during which pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity were entered to charges of aggravated murder and murder.
A Champaign County grand jury indicted Nicholas last Friday stemming from the April 6 homicide of Heidi F. Taylor, who was the live-in girlfriend of Nicholas’ father. A court statement previously filed by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office stated Nicholas allegedly stabbed Taylor, 40, an unknown number of times before shooting her.
Both charges against Nicholas carry firearm specifications for one year and three years.
Judge Nick Selvaggio said the court would treat the not guilty by reason of insanity plea as an oral motion for evaluation and refer Nicholas to the Forensic Psychiatry Center for Western Ohio to determine his mental evaluation.
During Tuesday’s hearings, multiple motions filed on Monday by Nicholas’ attorney Darrell Heckman and Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi were discussed. Selvaggio noted Heckman filed six motions and an affidavit prior to the arraignment while Talebi filed one motion.
A motion seeking to appoint expert witness Dr. Benjamin Hendrickson for the purpose of evaluating the insanity of Nicholas at the time of the incident was one of the motions discussed after the not guilty by reason of insanity plea was entered. This motion was granted by the court.
In a motion seeking to require the state to provide medical treatment for Nicholas, Heckman stated Nicholas has been in the Central Ohio Youth Center since April 6 and the center has been aware since his arrival that he is mentally ill. Despite this, Heckman states the center has made no effort to obtain psychological or psychiatric treatment for him.
Heckman reiterated in court that the center seems to respond to court orders and the problem could be solved if the court orders Nicholas to have medical treatment for psychiatric conditions.
After discussion with both parties on the motion, Selvaggio said the court would withhold a decision on the motion. Heckman was ordered by the court to contact Maryhaven to find out if they go into the youth center while Talebi was given eight days to respond to the motion in writing.
After consideration from both parties, bond was established at $700,000 for Nicholas with conditions of electronically-monitored house arrest, a requirement to reside at an alternate residence and to be under 24-hour supervision by a responsible adult if bond was posted.
On Monday, Heckman filed a motion requesting a hearing on bond. In the motion, Heckman stated despite state and federal constitutional prohibitions against excessive bail, Nicholas was being held without bail.
Heckman contended a reasonable bail would be $20,000 with a condition of house arrest and ankle monitoring.
Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi also filed a motion Monday seeking to hold a hearing to determine whether Nicholas should be held without bond.
Talebi noted Nicholas is charged with aggravated murder and murder and each offense is an unclassified felony offense which carries a penalty of life in prison. He added the state takes the position that Nicholas poses a risk of serious physical harm to the community considering the facts and circumstances of the case and there are no release conditions available which would adequately assure the safety of the community.
Other motions that were discussed during Tuesday’s hearing included a motion seeking for Nicholas to be allowed to appear in civilian clothes without restraints for hearings and a motion for grooming services so Nicholas can receive a haircut.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Selvaggio said the next steps involve Nicholas undergoing an evaluation by the forensic center and Hendrickson and the court will await the report of the two evaluators before scheduling the next hearing.
“The statute requires the reports to be submitted within 30 days,” Selvaggio said. “The court believes that based on the time of year and some other appointments that the forensic center has that there could be a request for an extension of that 30-day period.”
During an Oct. 31 amenability hearing in the juvenile court, Nicholas’ mental health history was discussed by Dr. Daniel Hrinko. During this hearing, Hrinko discussed a multiple personality disorder he believes Nicholas has.
As Nicholas spoke with a Champaign County dispatcher following the April 6 incident, he advised he killed Taylor but also stated that a person named Jeff, who he stated is inside him, stabbed and shot her.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.
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