Judge sends man to facility to restore his competency

WARREN – Following through on his warning about a month ago, Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan ordered a 61-year-old accused of murder institutionalized until his competency is restored.

During a court proceeding Tuesday, attorneys on both sides of the case stipulated to the fact that they believe Royce C. Honaker of Southington is not competent and unable to assist in his defense on charges that he shot to death his wife on July 31.

Honaker has failed to cooperate with a psychologist who was brought in to evaluate him for competency, according to court records.

On April 16, Logan urged Honaker to cooperate with Dr. Thomas Gazley of the Forensic Psychiatric Center of Northeast Ohio, or he will be taken from Trumbull County Jail to a state-run facility that cares for criminal defendants. Gazley was in court Tuesday, prepared to testify to a partially completed evaluation.

Honaker now will be sent to Heartland Behavioral Healthcare in Massillon – a lockdown facility where attorneys say Honaker can receive medication that will allow him to cooperate with testing procedures.

Courts allow facilities up to a year to restore competency in criminal defendants. If competency is restored, defendants are tried. If competency is not restored, defendants remain in the facilities.

The former autoworker has already fired several attorneys. Current attorneys J. Gerald Ingram and John Juhasz of Youngstown and Paul Adamson of Akron said earlier that they were either fired by Honaker, or they are unable to communicate with him. They remain on the case.

Honaker, of Countyline Turnpike Road, was indicted on aggravated murder charges, which can mean a prison term of 20 years to life. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bond.

According to authorities, Honaker called 911 and told dispatchers he had just killed his 58-year-old wife, Donna. He told the dispatcher his address, then hung up when she asked what happened.

Family members of both Royce and Donna Honaker said Royce Honaker suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and that his condition had worsened, leading up to the shooting. Royce Honaker installed security cameras and motion sensor lights throughout their property and boarded up windows because he believed people were watching him, family said.

Royce Honaker filed for divorce in April 2012 because he believed, among other things, his wife was poisoning his food, according to reports. She moved out of the house but returned frequently to care for him and make sure he was safe.

They were married for 40 years, had four children and several grandchildren.