• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Exantus 'competent to stand trial' for murder, judge rules

Woodford Circuit Judge Rob Johnson has ruled that an Indiana man is mentally competent to face a murder charge at trial for allegedly stabbing a 6-year-old Versailles boy to death. Ronald Exantus, 33, of Indianapolis, is accused of killing Logan Tipton in his family's Versailles home last December. Two of the boy's siblings suffered non-life threatening lacerations. His father, Dean Tipton, scuffled with Exantus and got a kitchen knife away from him before police officers arrived, according to authorities. Exantus's jury trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 11, 2017, in Woodford County. However, Judge Johnson said he will have another county ready "as a backup" venue for the jury trial if necessary. Defense attorneys could seek a change of venue because of the local publicity this case has garnered. Prior to agreeing on an August trial date, Johnson voiced some frustration with having to work around the heavy trial calendars of the public defense attorneys representing Exantus. He described setting a trial date a year from now as "outrageous." "The problem is you start having issues with witnesses, you have problems with getting people to court (and) preserving testimony," said Johnson. Before coming to an agreement on an earlier trial date for Exantus, defense attorney Bridgett Hofler said his trial will likely last weeks because "there's going to be a lot of expert testimony in this case." Commonwealth's Attorney Gordie Shaw has filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty for Exantus, a former nurse in Indianapolis, who remains lodged in the Woodford County Detention Center, with his bond set at $1 million. In addition to facing the death penalty for murder, Exantus has been charged with first-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault. In his written order finding Exantus competent for trial, Johnson cited the testimony of Dr. Amy Trivette, medical director of the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center. During a competency hearing on Sept. 27, Dr. Trivette testified that Exantus demonstrated awareness of the charges against him and the seriousness of those charges. "The Court, having no good cause to doubt the veracity of this evaluation or Dr. Trivette's learned medical opinion, concurs with her recommendation that (Exantus) fully comprehends the nature and severity of the charges against him and is capable of participating rationally in his own defense," Johnson wrote in his order. Exantus is scheduled to reappear in Woodford Circuit Court on Jan. 4, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., for a status hearing.

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