Teenager accused of murder receives conflicting evaluations, defense frustrated

ST. GEORGE – The mental status of a LaVerkin teenager charged with murder remains in question as news of conflicting competency evaluations was announced in 5th District Court Thursday morning. The announcement was a surprise to both the prosecution and the defense, which have yet to receive copies of the latest evaluation.

The mental competence of Joshua David Canfield, 18, who is accused of killing 58-year-old Toquerville resident Geraldine Bommerito in March, was originally questioned by Aric Cramer, Canfield’s attorney. A motion for competency evaluations was filed and subsequently approved in August.

State law requires that two mental health experts establish the mental competency or incompetency of a defendant.

In a Dec. 4 review hearing, Judge John Walton said the court had received one of the needed competency reports. It was also noted that the second evaluation had been completed, but had yet to be submitted to the court.

Walton announced in the Dec. 18 hearing that the court had received the second evaluation, which both surprised and annoyed Cramer’s partner, Edward Flint, who now acts as Canfield’s attorney. Moreover, attorneys on both sides of the case learned the reports conflict with each other.

“We have two competency reports,” Flint said, “One says competent, the other not competent. The judge has the reports. Neither (Deputy Washington County Attorney Zachary Weiland) nor myself have seen those reports. How the hell am I suppose to figure out if my client is competent, or if the doctors who did the evaluations and reports … know what they are doing? Did they screw up?”

During the hearing, both Weiland and Flint approached the bench and quietly spoke with Walton for a period of time about the situation before court proceedings resumed. Canfield was also present at the hearing. Unlike previous court appearances where he appeared agitated and caused minor disruptions, Canfield was quiet and composed.

An evidentiary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 30.

Flint and Weiland said it’s unlikely the court will order a third competency evaluation. Instead, both sides will base their arguments around the existing reports.

We’re going to argue it to the judge based on those two (reports), and then anything we do privately,” Flint said, adding the defense has hired a mental health expert who will be reviewing Canfield’s case.

“We do have a private guy who was lined up anyway … not so much for the competency issue, but he can evaluate Canfield,” Flint said. “He is more to look at diminished capacity and possible insanity, something that is rare in Utah.”

Though the case is moving forward a little at a time, Flint said he and his client are frustrated with how long the process was taking. Individuals like his client “that clearly have mental health issues” are locked away and not always treated well. In the mean time, their families and the victim’s families are left in limbo while things seemingly putter along. All the while, the case isn’t getting resolved, he said.

“I’m not happy about it,” Flint said.

As for the competency reports and why it took so long for the court to receive them, Flint said there have been other cases where competency issues were answered one way or another in the months following Canfield’s own arrest.

Why did it take so long? I don’t know. Somebody at the (Utah) State Hospital needs to answer that question because they sure as hell haven’t answered it adequately for me,” Flint said.

Canfield allegedly killed Geraldine Bommerito during a residential burglary on March 19. According to court records, he allegedly stole Bommerito’s car, two guns, and some collectable coins which he later used at a gas station in Washington City. The action raised suspicion and police were contacted about the incident. Authorities were given a description of the car Canfield was driving, and that led them to Bommerito’s home.

Police tracked the car and Canfield to Springdale. The car had been abandoned and torched near the resort town. Canfield was found and was allegedly combative with officers when taken into custody. At one point he attempted to harm himself and was placed on suicide watch for a time after being delivered to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Canfield has been charged with nine felonies and three misdemeanors in relation to the case.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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  • ladybugavenger December 19, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    He was obviously outside his mind. Goes to show, psych evaluations are based on someones opinion…

    • ladybugavenger December 19, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Does this mean they have to start over and get 2 more evaluations?

      • Joe December 19, 2014 at 8:35 pm

        Did you reply to yourself ? Might need to be evaluated for that behavior.

      • Kibblesnbits December 20, 2014 at 7:43 am

        You know they say you talk to yourself long enough you will eventually answer yourself

        • My Evil Twin December 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

          Is that what has happened to you, Zonker?

      • ladybugavenger December 20, 2014 at 10:20 am

        I always answer myself…as if you don’t hahaha

        • ladybugavenger December 20, 2014 at 10:23 am

          Like this: is that a good idea? No, ladybugavenger that’s a bad frick’n idea. Mmmm you all should try it

          • Koolaid December 21, 2014 at 10:36 am

            Maybe you should conduct a poll for a consensus with your selves.

          • ladybugavenger December 21, 2014 at 11:41 am

            Yep, we all agree

  • getting flooded December 20, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Sounds like the way to get him off and put him in a mental hospital and not prison if you ask me

    • Kibblesnbits December 20, 2014 at 7:44 am

      Yeah your typical tough guy until he gets caught

  • Dana December 20, 2014 at 5:21 am

    He tried to cover his crime by torching the stolen car after the murder and theft. Then he wants to cry like a little punk and threaten suicide?? Sounds sane enough to me. Send him to Draper and let “Bubba” take care of him.

    • Koolaid December 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Torching a car??? This guy seriously needs a fundraiser! Was he a high school football standout? Any bishop connections? Get with the fundraising pronto!

  • Maggie Pea December 20, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Our judicial system is so screwed up. No wonder crime is so rampant nowadays. No one has to pay the price. He was burglarizing a home for hellsakes! Cause and Effect. Karma. Reap What You Sow. No matter how you say it…you do the crime, you reap the penalty and it should be swift and just. The system is just making money on dragging it out.

  • Prongs December 21, 2014 at 1:29 am

    everyone needs to remember: innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around!!!!!!!

    • ladybugavenger December 21, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Oh, no…its the other way around, you have to prove your innocence in a court of law or hope for a technicality if your guilty

    • My Evil Twin December 21, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Well, he MUST be guilty of SOMETHING! Maybe he is KIBBLESNSNOT’S, (AKA ZONKERB’s) daddy?

  • sagemoon December 22, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Drug use during the commission of a crime does not make a person incompetent, it makes them stupid. Send him to prison!

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