Three youths charged in the shocking 2016 slayings of a grandmother, son and granddaughter in Columbus’ Upatoi area likely will not go to trial this September, attorneys said this week.
During a hearing this past June, Judge Gil McBride set a tentative trial date of Sept. 12 for Rufus Lanard Burks, Raheam Daniel Gibson, and Jervarceay Tyrie Tapley. Each faces three counts of murder and other charges in the deaths of Gloria Short, 54; her son, Caleb Short, 17; and granddaughter, Gianna Lindsey, 10, found dead in Short’s 3057 Bentley Drive home on Jan. 4, 2016.
Attorneys said the case likely will be delayed because of court-ordered psychological evaluations for Gibson and Burks. The primary aim of such examinations is to determine the “degree of criminal responsibility at the time of the act,” as outlined in court records.
According to McBride’s order, the questions to be answered by Burks’ evaluation are “whether the accused has the mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong in relation to the alleged act,” and “whether or not the presence of a delusional compulsion overmastered the defendant’s will to resist committing the alleged act.”
The order for Gibson’s evaluation also asked about his competency to stand trial — “whether the accused is capable of understanding the nature and object of the proceedings; whether the accused comprehends his own condition in reference to the proceedings against him; and, whether the accused is capable of rendering to counsel assistance in providing a proper defense.”
Burks’ attorney, Jennifer Curry, said she has not received results of his evaluation. One of Gibson’s two attorneys, William Kendrick, said he thought Gibson’s evaluation report was in – the examination was finished May 16 – but his partner J. Mark Shelnutt said getting the results is just a first step.
Defense attorneys then have to pore over the results to determine what court motions may follow, based on the evaluation, and they may seek an expert to review the report and offer additional insights, he said.
District Attorney Julia Slater also said that getting the evaluations back is only part of the process, as they must be reviewed before motions are filed and hearings set to argue those motions. The time that requires makes a September trial date unlikely, she said.
Tapley’s attorney, Shevon Sutcliffe Thomas, has not requested an evaluation for his client.
McBride in June said other trial dates available after Sept. 12 were Oct. 30 and Nov. 6.
The judge last month also set Aug. 16 and 17 for hearings on Curry’s motion for a change of venue based on pretrial publicity and its prejudicial effect on potential jurors. She also has asked that her client’s case be severed from the others, so he’s tried separately. Curry said Tuesday that she has heard of no change in that hearing schedule.
Authorities have said the three homicides were particularly brutal, and the evidence will be graphic.
The deaths were reported about 8 a.m. that first Monday of 2016 when nurse Robert Short Sr. got home from working the night shift at a local hospital, and found his wife, son and granddaughter slain.
Police said Gloria Short and her granddaughter were beaten and stabbed to death, and the son fatally bludgeoned. Adding to public outrage was evidence the killers gained little from the heinous crime: They robbed the family of designer clothing, a box of coins, some video games and two automobiles they later abandoned.
Also shocking was the age of each defendant: Burks was only 15; Tapley was 17; and Gibson was 19. Now Burks is 17; Tapley is 19; and Gibson is 21.
Their 30-count indictment charges them with 10 counts each: three counts of malice or intentional murder; three counts of felony murder for homicides involving the felony of aggravated assault; two counts of auto theft; and one each of kidnapping and first-degree burglary.