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Man Found Incompetent To Be Tried In Beating

By DAVID OWENS

The Hartford Courant

May 15, 2008

VERNON

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An 85-year-old Hebron man accused of beating his wife with a hammer April 25 and causing her death was deemed incompetent Wednesday to stand trial.

Clermont Genesse has been jailed since the attack on his 80-year-old wife, Francoise.

Judge Carl J. Schuman ordered Genesse committed to the custody of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which indicated it will place Genesse in the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital, a state-run psychiatric hospital in Middletown. Whiting Forensic is the maximum-security division of Connecticut Valley Hospital.

Schuman's order for commitment came during a competency hearing in Superior Court in Rockville at which Schuman concluded that Genesse could not understand the proceedings against him or assist with his defense. The judge also found that it was highly unlikely that Genesse would be restored to competency.

Schuman also ordered that state authorities begin civil commitment proceedings against Genesse because he is suicidal, homicidal and gravely disabled.

The hearing came on the same day that Tolland State's Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky filed a substitute charge of murder against Genesse in the death of his wife. Francoise Genesse, who had been gravely injured in the early morning attack on April 25, died May 7 at Hartford Hospital.

Until Wednesday, Genesse had been charged with attempted murder, as well as first-degree assault and second-degree assault.

The judge's finding that Genesse is incompetent means the prosecution is effectively suspended.

"With the death of the client, the case would reach its conclusion," Douglas Ovian, Genesse's public defender, said after court.

Lynn Biella, a licensed clinical social worker on the three-person team that evaluated Genesse, said he appeared to be suffering from dementia. His private physician suspected Genesse suffered from Alzheimer's disease and had scheduled an MRI, but the attack on Francoise Genesse occurred before that could happen.

Not only is Genesse incompetent, Biella testified, "he appears to meet the requirements for civil commitment."

"He doesn't even know that he's in jail," Biella testified. He also thinks the year is 1985 and is "passively suicidal," she said. "He wants to die."

Genesse, dressed in a green jumpsuit, remained seated in a wheelchair throughout the hearing. He said nothing and looked impassively ahead, occasionally glancing at his lawyer. He did not appear to recognize his granddaughter, seated in the gallery behind him.

Schuman ordered that Genesse be evaluated every six months to determine his level of competency. The court is scheduled to receive the first report Nov. 12.

The evaluation team, Biella testified, does not believe Genesse can be restored to competency.