Murder trial continues

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

The trial for a Perry County woman accused of injuring her brother and killing her brother's girlfriend with the same bullet continues. On Friday, a neuropsychologist testified that Sarah Melton was not able to control her actions when she pulled the trigger.

The first three witnesses called to the stand on Friday had the same opinions of Bill Couch.

“Very violent, very aggressive,” said William Deming, the brother of Melton and Couch when asked what his opinion of Couch was.

A neighbor had the same reply when asked about the opinion he had formed.

“Very violent,” said Ronnie Lawson.

Even the Retired city Deputy Police Chief was asked to describe the impression he received of Couch as he dealt with him during his 24 years in law enforcement.

“What is that opinion?” said Defense Attorney Gerald Teaster.

Kenneth Brown used the words “extremely violent” in response.

These statements support the defense's argument that Sarah Melton was threatened by Couch when she shot and injured him with the same bullet that killed his girlfriend Cindy Caudill.

“I think she really was afraid of her brother that week,” said Dr. James Walker a Neuropsychologist.
“I think she was afraid he was going to burn her trailer down or shoot her trailer or harm her children or something like that.”

On Wednesday, Melton told jurors she was not trying to kill anyone and wanted to protect her children. One doctor's evaluation supported that theory.

“My conclusion is that because of her mania and post traumatic stress disorder, that ms. Melton lacked substantial capacity to control her actions that day,” said Walker.

Walker said that the history of manic episodes described by neighbors and her psychotherapist were enough to diagnose her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Type 1. Walker told the jury about the alleged physical and sexual abuse Melton underwent beginning at age 12, when she first sought psychiatric treatment.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Teresa Combs Reed noted that the original diagnosis was for type 2 Bipolar Disorder and Walker said he felt this was the first time the diagnosis fully encompassed all reported incidents of mania to support the diagnosis.

Prosecutors acknowledged that medical history dating back to when Melton was 12, but also claimed she stopped taking the medication she needed before the shooting.

“And did she indicate to you recently that she had stopped taking thorazine?” said Combs Reed.

“She told me that she did not like taking medication and thorazine is a medication those with bipolar disorder hate to take because it makes them feel slowed down,” replied Walker.
Walker said that mania is often a pleasant experience for those with the disorder.

More evidence of Melton's injuries allegedly caused by Couch were also presented to the jury.
The prosecution is trying to prove Melton knew exactly what she was doing and intentionally killed Caudill and injured Couch.

Walker said that in his 19 years of practicing he has only ruled that someone was not in control of their actions during a crime just a couple of times out of hundreds of cases. The defense will continue calling witnesses Monday morning.

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