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Standoff suspect “not guilty by reason of insanity”

| May 8, 2023
Donald Whiting, 70, will remain in an inpatient psychiatric facility after being found not guilty by reason of insanity to charges stemming from a 2021 standoff with law enforcement at his Bolivar area home. (WJER Radio)

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 8, 2023) – The Bolivar area man charged with attempted murder and felonious assault for shooting at a sheriff’s deputy and other law enforcement officers will undergo another psychological evaluation after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Thomakos made the finding about 70-year-old Donald Whiting during a bench trial Monday afternoon, basing it on the opinions of two different forensic psychologists.

The charges against Whiting arose from a stand-off at his Russell Drive Northwest home two years ago this month. Assistant Prosecutor Fred Scott says it started when a deputy went there to talk to him about a disturbing letter he left in a neighbor’s mailbox and ended after he took off in his pickup truck and crashed it on state Route 800.

“The rest of the facts, I don’t think we need to belabor because you’re familiar with the case and he’s waived his right to a jury trial and the state and the defendant have entered into an agreement regarding presentation of the evidence and stipulations.”

Whiting was previously deemed incapable of understanding the charges against him and assisting in his defense but had his competency restored with medication. He’s been staying at an inpatient psychiatric facility in Massillon, where another assessment will now be conducted to determine the appropriate place for him going forward.

“As soon as that’s prepared, then we would come back into court for establishment of those terms and conditions or what that looks like,” Thomakos explained.

Both of the psychologists who evaluated Whiting’s state of mind at the time of the crimes found that he was experiencing a severe mental disease that prevented him from understanding “the wrongfulness of his actions.”

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