By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Emily Heckler was represented, in court, by her attorney Brent Easton to file a motion to allow E. Heckler to start community integration. Community integration would allow Heckler the privilege of leaving the Highland Acute Behavioral and Mental Health Hospital, in Clarksburg, on day trips with a group of other patients. The patients would go to places like the movies, shopping, or restaurants.
In April of 2021 E. Heckler was found not guilty by reason of mental health for the 2019 stabbing and killing of her stepmother, Marion Heckler. E. Heckler, 19 at the time, slit M. Heckler’s throat, and stabbed M. Heckler 42 times in her back, killing her with an eight-inch wooden-handled kitchen butcher knife.
During the trial E. Heckler testified that her and M. Heckler had gotten into an argument and during that argument she had flashbacks to a previous argument that involved a knife with her mother, which she claimed caused her to flip out and stab her stepmother.
After entering this plea, E. Heckler was committed to a secure mental health facility and will be under the court’s jurisdiction for the maximum term for first-degree murder, which is life. E. Heckler will also undergo an annual evaluation to determine if she poses a danger and whether such a facility is still appropriate.
Easton questioned Heckler’s primary care doctor, Dr. Toni Goodykoontz, who has served as an attending Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist since Highland-Clarksburg Hospital’s opening in August of 2013 and assumed the position of Chief Medical Officer in July of 2018. Dr. Goodykoontz testified that Heckler has been stable since being admitted to the hospital.
Dr. Goodykoontz also testified that E. Heckler has been taking her meds as prescribed, attending therapeutic group sessions and has gone from once-a-week individual therapy sessions to every two weeks. Goodykoontz also testified that E. Heckler had been to see her mother in hospice care twice without incident and has no concerns that E. Heckler would be a risk to a leave the facility for a few hours with a group of individuals under supervision of hospital staff in the Clarksburg and Bridgeport area.
Goodykoontz said, “This is the typical next step of treatment. Emily has done fine with supervised staff, in a van with radio contact, to medical appointments. Some people take years to achieve this level. She (E. Heckler) will not be going out with others that have issues.”
Tucker County Prosecuting Attorney Savannah Hull Wilkins addressed the court stating that E. Heckler has only been under Goodykoontz’s care for just eight to ten months. Wilkins reminded the court that E. Heckler had a history of being in and out wards or hospitals since 2013 and just two days after being released the last time she stabbed and killed her stepmother.
Wilkins reminded the courts of the numerous stab wounds M. Heckler sustained during the incident and how E. Heckler had no drugs of any kind in her system at the time, meaning she was not taking her medication as prescribed. Wilkins also mentioned the fact E. Heckler had tried to choke one of the guards in the jail with a towel.
Tucker County Sergeant Teter also testified, for Wilkins, to remind the court that he was the first officer on the scene and M. Heckler was still alive when he arrived. Teter testified he administered CPR to no avail and M. Heckler died shortly after. Teter said, “I believe she (E. Heckler) is not ready,” to which Easton quickly objected to but Judge Courrier allowed. Teter continued and said, “It took me days to sleep with the lights off. This is one that stuck out with me because of the number of injuries. She (M. Heckler) was still alive and crying out for help. I can still remember the 911 call.”
Wilkins questioned Goodykoontz as to what kind of training the staff taking the individuals out for the day trips had to which the doctor could not answer.
After hearing from both sides, Judge Courrier decided he needed more information on how the staff was trained to handle the patients on the outings before he could make a decision.
In other court news:
The trail for Tammy Mook’s five counts and four charges of arson and burglary for two years ranging from 2017 to 2019 is set to begin with pre-trail on December 9 at 10 a.m. and trail on January 17 and 18, 2023. Mook was charged with (alledegy) burning down a dwelling and burglarizing it, in Harman.
The case of Trevor Roy vs. the State of West Virginia is set to begin on December 1, 2022. Roy was arrested in 2019 on charges of domestic battery.