Kanawha judge grants motion for another psych evaluation, wants to avoid ‘ping-ponging’ murder trial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County man accused of killing his brother last year will undergo another psychological evaluation to prove he is competent to stand trial.

Holdon Burdette

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit granted a motion for the review for Holdon Burdette, 23, of Charleston, on Monday, which was supposed to be the start of his trial.

Burdette is charged with first degree murder in the death of his brother Joshua Burdette, 31. It happened at a home in Sissonville following an argument in March 2021. Joshua Burdette was shot in the chest and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Defense attorney Richard Holicker told the judge his client has refused to speak to him about the case, which has prevented his from preparing for trial.

“I don’t think it’s an issue between me and him because he’s also cut off communication with his family which had been ongoing,” Holicker said during a Monday hearing.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit

Holicker said Burdette stormed out of a meeting in late May.

“He couldn’t or wouldn’t discuss the case. He walked out of the meeting saying ‘I’ll see you on the 6th’ which is today, the day set for trial. Obviously, I can’t prepare for trial without his active involvement,” he said.

Burdette was previously evaluated back on Feb. 23 where was found competent to stand trial. Holiker said he’s unsure if his client’s mental health has started to deteriorate since then.

“I have no way of knowing that’s why I want to have him evaluated. If it’s willful behavior on his part, we’ll do the best we can. If it’s due to his underlying mental illness, then we need to do something about that,” Holicker said.

Judge Tabit told Burdette the back-and-forth needs to stop if they want to get a trial going soon.

“We’re not going to keep ping-ponging this, Mr. Burdette. You can’t get restored to competency and then, on the eve of trial, discontinue communications and think that this matter is going to be continued and continued and continued,” Tabit said.

Burdette was previously evaluated at Sharpe Hospital, a state-operated facility in Weston.

Tabit said she’s going to need full proof this time around if Burdette’s mental health is worsening.

“I’ll be curious to see what an evaluator has to say and I hope that Mr. Holicker’s perceptions are such that your condition has deteriorated and we need to work to get you to have your competency restored, but I’m not convinced that’s where we are right now,” Tabit said.

Burdette is currently being held at South Central Regional Jail.

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