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Competency evaluation ordered for Nashua man charged with killing sister

Union Leader Correspondent

January 29. 2013 3:37PM

NASHUA - It has been less than two weeks since Duane Rolfe has been charged with killing his sister in their Nashua home, and attorneys are already questioning his mental condition.

Rolfe, 65, is accused of murdering Judith Rolfe, 66, on Jan. 19 at their 8 Belmont St. home. Police say she died of blunt-force trauma to the head. On Tuesday, Duane Rolfe's attorney filed a motion seeking a competency evaluation for her client, which was granted by Judge Michael Ryan at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua District Division.

Attorney Jacki Smith asked that the defense conduct its own evaluation to determine whether Duane Rolfe is competent to stand trial, and whether he could possibly be deemed insane.

"We think it is appropriate in this case to get the (competency) process moving sooner rather than later," Smith told the court during a brief hearing. Judith Rolfe died of multiple blunt-force injuries to the head with lacerations and contusions to the brain, according to investigators, who have refused to identify what type of weapon may have been used or what may have motivated the attack.

Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said Tuesday the defense has decided to address the issue of mental competency now rather than waiting, noting communication issues with Rolfe.

"Every case is different. (Defense) counsel found it prudent to do it early," explained Hinckley. Smith told the court that the probable cause hearing originally scheduled for Tuesday could not occur because of the competency concerns. The judge ordered a follow-up hearing April 29.

"I expect that he will be indicted within 90 days," Ryan said of Rolfe. Meanwhile, Hinckley said prosecutors are continuing to gather information about what took place Jan. 19 that led to Judith Rolfe's death. Once the defense completes its competency evaluation, Hinckley said the state will have an opportunity to conduct its own, independent evaluation if that is deemed necessary.

"There are many variables to consider. There are a whole lot of contingencies," said Hinckley, declining to speculate on whether Rolfe may eventually be deemed incompetent to stand trial.

"We need to take the appropriate steps."

Rolfe is being held without bail, charged with two alternate counts of second-degree murder -- one alleging that he knowingly killed his sister and the second alleging that he recklessly killed his sister.

So far, authorities have remained tight-lipped about the woman's fatal beating. The siblings operated McDonald's kitchen shop in downtown Nashua for decades, according to friends, who said Judith Rolfe took care of her younger brother for many years.

The police affidavit detailing the crime has been sealed at the courthouse.

Crime, law and justice Nashua

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