EBENSBURG - A mental health evaluation may determine the fate of a 78-year-old memory-impaired man accused of violently taking a fellow nursing home resident's life.
A day after Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski called Theodore Shaw's death on Monday a homicide, Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan said the matter is still under investigation. With the alleged assailant, Ray F. Dunmyer Jr., currently under a court-ordered hospitalization commitment, she said the next step will likely be determined by results of a mental health evaluation.
"The real issue is whether he is legally competent to stand trial," Callihan said Wednesday. "Either the Public Defender's Office or ourselves will end up having an evaluation so we can see how to proceed."
Dunmyer is charged with three felony aggravated assault counts, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person after he allegedly slammed a door inside the Cambria Care Center against Shaw's head repeatedly, causing fatal head trauma.
State police at Ebensburg said he also fought with two nurse's aides who rushed to Shaw's aid.
Investigators and the nursing home's operator, Grane Healthcare, have indicated that officials are not sure what provoked the attack.
Both men were diagnosed dementia patients, with Dunmyer a six-month resident of the home who hadn't previously been a problem patient, Grane spokesman Mark Fox said this week.
Regardless of Dunmyer's mental health determination, Callihan indicated homicide charges may still be filed against him as a method for prosecutors to get him into a long-term mental health center.
For now, investigators can only wait, she added.
A warrant for Dunmyer's arrest on current charges has been approved, but it cannot be executed while the Cresson man is in court-ordered treatment at a secure hospital facility.
"We're just going to have to let time work this all out," Callihan said, noting that she has been talking with state police investigators, the Public Defender's Office, family members of both men and others. "There's not a whole lot more we can do right now."
Mirror Staff Writer David Hurst is at 946-7457.