MUSKOGEE — A probation revocation case for Gene Stipe is on indefinite hold, as is a new criminal indictment, after a federal judge ruled Tuesday that the former state senator remains mentally incompetent to stand trial. It was the second time U.S. District Judge Ronald White found Stipe is unable to assist his attorneys. As with last year’s ruling, White based his decision mainly on a report and testimony by the prosecution’s key witness, a neuropsychologist who examined Stipe during a recent four-month stay at a Missouri prison hospital. Dr. Robert Denney testified that Stipe has improved in some areas and regressed in others. Overall, Denney said, Stipe is still incompetent, largely because of dementia caused by excessive fluid on the brain.
About the caseStipe, 82, is on probation for two felony convictions involving illegal contributions to the 1998 congressional race of Walt Roberts. Prosecutors claim he violated probation by associating with another convicted felon and by orchestrating another campaign fraud case in 2004. Stipe also faces a four-count felony indictment alleging he paid kickbacks to get state money for his business interests and later tried to intimidate one of the prosecution’s key witnesses in that case. Stipe is required to remain on house arrest at least until his probation expires in January. "We’ll see,” Sperling said, when asked whether his office would pursue a third mental competency examination. Judge White said — while looking at Stipe in the courtroom — that he agreed to reopen this case because of "the possibility that the sly old fox, no offense, was faking it.” White referred to Denney as the nation’s foremost authority on detecting whether inmates are trying to feign mental incompetence.
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