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Judge Orders Mental Competency Test for Driver in Fatal Hit and Run

Posted on Feb 27, 2012

On Thursday, February 2nd, a Milwaukee County judge ordered a mental competency examination for a man charged with killing a couple in a car crash on New Years Day. The man, 17-year-old Kelly Duke, was speeding and under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. The accident killed Ed and Jean Thaves, who were stopped at a light at the time of the crash.

Prosecutors assert that Mr. Duke lost control of the stolen vehicle he was driving and crashed through the roof of Mr. and Mrs. Thaves’ car. He then ran away from the scene of the accident. He allegedly had only minor injuries and was able to find his way home, two miles away.

Mr. Duke’s attorney, Andrew Frankin, stated in the February 2nd court hearing that there are reasons to believe that Mr. Duke is not mentally competent to stand trial. Circuit Judge David Borowski thereafter granted a motion for a mental examination. It is anticipated that the doctor’s report will be issued in March.

Attorney Franklin had further planned to ask the Judge for a reduction in Mr. Duke’s bail, currently set at $200,000. When the family of the Thaves learned of this intent, however, they mounted a public appeal to oppose the bail reduction. Approximately 660 people signed an online petition objecting to the reduction.

Edward Thaves, the son of the victims, stated that he believes the request for a mental evaluation to be a “stall tactic” on the part of the defense. He cites Mr. Duke’s ability to flee the accident and find his way home, as well as his request to change lawyers during a previous hearing, as evidence that Mr. Duke is competent to stand trial. Edward Thaves feels that allowing the trial to drag on is prolonging the pain of his family.

Attorneys and staff of the Gurnee office of Hupy & Abraham, wish to express our deepest sympathies to the friends and loved ones of the Thaves family. 

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