Man accused of raping, killing Lake James woman seeking insanity defense

Crime

STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — The man accused of raping and murdering a 82-year-old Lake James woman has been granted a competency evaluation.

Matthew Hoover, 29, of Anderson has been formally charged with Rape, Burglary, and Abuse of a Corpse in addition to the original charge of Murder in the June stabbing death of Wilma Ball.

Matthew Hoover, 29, of Anderson (Photo courtesy of the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department)

According to the prosecutor, Hoover qualifies for the death penalty or life without parole. The prosecutor said he is still reviewing to determine if he would seek either.

On Monday, a Steuben County judge granted Hoover’s motion for a competency evaluation after his defense attorney “alleged an insanity defense.”

“The defendant will now be evaluated by two mental health professionals as to competency and their opinion on insanity. One of the professionals must be an M.D. (psychiatry). The other can be a psychologist,” the Steuben County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.

If Hoover is found competent, the case will go to trial. If he is found incompetent, the office said he will be placed into a “secure state hospital until he regains competency.”

According to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the defense inquiry in Indiana is two pronged:

  • Did the defendant suffer from a mental disease or defect at the time of the alleged offense?
  • If so, due to the mental disease or defect, did the defendant appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct.
Wilma Ball

The insanity plea will be determined by the jury which will choose either: guilty, not guilty, guilty but mentally ill, and not guilty be reason of insanity.

Ball was found stabbed to death in her lakefront home along the first basin of Lake James June 23. Police found a large amount of blood around her body, on a bed, and the woman had her shirt pulled up, and pajama pants were on the floor, according to investigators.

Her death was ultimately ruled a homicide.

Investigators looking into the killing spoke with a neighbor, who said his brother – Hoover – may have been involved in Ball’s death, according to a probable cause affidavit. The man said Hoover had abruptly quit his job and moved out of his home the day before Ball was killed, then stole his parents’ truck and left town.

Police found Hoover at a home in rural Yorktown.

Hoover denied ever being in Ball’s home and told investigators during an interview that he did not kill Ball, the affidavit said. Steuben County Prosecutor Jeremy Muss said that a detective testified in court, though, that Hoover admitted to stabbing Ball during an interview.

According to the affidavit, though, police found a beer can on a nightstand next to the bed Ball was found dead in. Testing found the can had Hoover’s DNA on it.

The new and final pretrial date is schedule for March 28, 2022. The jury trial has been rescheduled for the week of April 18, 2022.

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