Local News

Lawyer: Housekeeper Charged in Beating Deaths Needs Mental Treatment

Posted February 20, 2008 4:59 p.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2008 2:09 p.m. EST

— A housekeeper charged in the December beating deaths of two elderly women at an upscale Chatham County retirement community should be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment, according to her lawyer.

Public defender James Williams is seeking a court order to send Barbara Turrentine Clark to John Umstead Hospital in Butner for an evaluation and treatment.

Clark, 41, of Toomer Loop Road in Pittsboro, has been indicted on two counts of murder and one count each of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. The charges stem from a Dec. 5 attack on three elderly women at Galloway Ridge at Fearrington, off U.S. Highway 15/501 north of Pittsboro.

Authorities said Clark attacked Margaret Murta, 92, her roommate Mary Corcoran, 82, and their neighbor, Rebecca Fisher, 77, with pepper spray and a cane-like object during a dispute over money.

Murta and Corcoran died from their injuries. Fisher was seriously injured but recovered.

Williams' request is scheduled to be heard March 24.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour on Thursday recused himself from the case, saying he has personal relationships with people in the case. He also appointed a second public defender to assist Williams because Clark might face the death penalty.

Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall wants a court hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to seek the death penalty in the case.