WARREN - A 22-year-old Warren woman accused of raping an infant and recording the act on a cellphone has been found competent to stand trial.
An attorney for Felicia Banks Beemer now says he will have to review Wednesday's ruling before deciding whether to accept any plea offer from prosecutors or take the case to a jury.
''I still have to consider everything and talk with my client,'' said attorney John Fowler, who was appointed to represent Beemer.
Beemer is accused of participating in the rape of the 9-month-old girl, gross sexual imposition and charges of pandering obscenity of a minor, since police say the sexual attacks were recorded on the cellphone, during a supervised visit with the infant at Trumbull County Children Services offices. The two counts of rape carry potential life-in-prison specifications.
Beemer's husband, Cody, 23, pleaded guilty to similar charges in June and was sentenced to life in prison with a chance at parole after serving 25 years. It's believed that any plea offer made to the mother would be similar to the one accepted by her husband.
Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay said in his findings that ''the defendant has the capacity to testify even though her limited intellectual ability would not allow her to withstand cross-examination as well as a person of higher intellect.''
But the judge pointed out that the woman understands the nature of the charges and the penalties along with the plea bargaining process and the roles of the attorneys, court and the jury.
McKay said Beemer was able to give clear and coherent accounts of her activities on the day of the alleged rape, something that demonstrates she would be able to aid her attorney to defend her.
''(Beemer) is motivated by a favorable outcome and wants to serve as little time as possible. While (Beemer) has less of an attention span than others, the court finds that it is sufficient if the court gives frequent breaks during the trial,'' McKay wrote.
The idea of the breaks during trial was testified to Sept. 14 at a competency hearing for Beemer that involved three experts who examined her.
The experts all agreed Beemer is mildly or borderline mentally handicapped and reads and functions as if she were an 8- or 9-year-old.
Two of the experts - Dr. Phillip J. Resnick, a psychiatrist with Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and Thomas Gazley, a psychologist with the Forensic Psychiatric Center of Northeast Ohio - said that although Beemer is easily led by those in a position of authority, she meets the criteria of competency.
A third expert retained by Fowler, John Fabian, a psychologist and lawyer, said Beemer may understand the proceedings and what allegations she faces, but she is unable to aid in her own defense. He also included in his report to the judge that he doesn't feel her competency can be restored within a year.
McKay rejected Fabian's finding that Beemer couldn't assist in her own defense.
CSB representatives acknowledged they had relaxed the supervised visitation for the Beemers prior to the rape. Caseworkers checked in on the trio in "timed intervals" during the weekly two-hour visits.
Court records showed CSB was aware of Cody Beemer's history, which includes sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl, and abusing Felicia Beemer.
The girl, now 2, likely will be adopted by foster parents in northern Trumbull County who, according to records, have provided her with exceptional care despite the girl's ongoing health problems prompted in part because her mother smoked throughout her pregnancy.
Relatives have criticized CSB since another relative of the girl, Tiffany Sue Banks, was immediately taken into CSB custody after her birth in June 2007 and later killed by her foster mother, Bonnie Pattinson of Newton Falls. Pattinson was sentenced to nine years in prison.
The allegations also prompted several lawsuits and two investigations, including one into CSB's practices and policies surrounding supervised visitation and a criminal investigation by BCI to see if the agency was criminally negligent. A special prosecutor recently presented findings to a grand jury which declined to issue any indictments.