Judge continues indigency hearing in Stillwater parade crash case
STILLWATER — A hearing to determine whether the state should pay for an expert witness for Adacia Chambers' defense will continue next month.
Chambers, 25, is accused of driving around barricades and into a crowd at last year's Oklahoma State University homecoming parade, killing four. She faces four counts of second-degree murder and 46 counts of assault and battery by means or force likely to produce death.
At issue is whether Chambers or her family are able to pay for a psychologist to testify in her defense at trial — testimony that Chambers' attorney, Tony Coleman, said is "desperately needed in this very important case."
Chambers appeared Friday in Payne County District Court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and arm and leg shackles. When asked about her financial situation, she told Associate Judge Louis Duel that she had $200-$300 in the bank.
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Before her arrest, Chambers worked 25-35 hours per week at Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers in Stillwater, where she earned $8.50 per hour, said her attorney, Tony Coleman. He argued her financial situation leaves her unable to pay for her own defense, let alone expert witnesses.
Chambers' father, Floyd Chambers, is paying his daughter's legal fees, Coleman said. But doing so has left the family in difficult financial straits. The family can't afford to pay for expert witness testimony, he said.
But Payne County District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas argued that it isn't necessary for Coleman to hire a psychologist at taxpayer expense since two separate psychological evaluations have already been performed on Chambers — one at Coleman's request, just days after the crash, and another at the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita.
In the evaluation requested by Coleman, forensic psychologist Shawn Roberson concluded Chambers likely suffered from bipolar disorder and could be a danger to herself or others if released. In a report, Roberson wrote that Chambers was aware she was in jail but didn't understand why she was under arrest and had no memory of the crash.
Roberson is a longtime forensic psychologist who has done more than 2,000 competency evaluations. He is widely respected by prosecutors.
Last December, the Vinita forensic center released a report saying Chambers was competent to stand trial.
Duel issued a continuance until June 1 and ordered Coleman to produce an affidavit showing Floyd Chambers' ability to pay for experts and a copy of Adacia Chambers' 2014 tax return.
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri. Read more ›