Suspect’s estate passes to kids

WARREN – Even though he hasn’t been convicted of murder yet, 62-year-old Royce Honaker of Southington declined to challenge the transfer of his estate to his four children, according to a judge’s decision Tuesday.

Honaker is accused of killing his wife nearly two years ago when he picked up the phone and confessed to shooting her as a police dispatcher listened on the other end of the line.

The couple’s $519,965 estate, consisting of three pieces of property, a $108,000 life insurance policy that names Honaker as the beneficiary and two PNC bank accounts and one pension check belonging to his wife will be turned over to the couple’s three sons and a daughter, according to a decision by Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift, who approved a settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit.

The suit was filed by attorney Timothy George on behalf of the couple’s children and settled quickly.

Attorney John Chaney, who represented Honaker and his estate, told Swift at a brief hearing Tuesday that Honaker is retaining the rights to his own monthly pension from Ford Motor Co. and five vehicles, including a 2002 Ford Focus, an older Ford bucket truck, a 2009 Ford F150 pickup truck, a 30-year-old Ford Mustang and a trailer.

Chaney said Honaker declined to challenge the transfer of three pieces of property into his wife’s estate and now to their children. The parcels include the home at 4480 Countyline-Turnpike Road where the couple lived, 2686 Hoagland-Blackstub Road and 723 State Road.

Meanwhile, Honaker’s criminal attorney John Juhasz revealed his client has recently been determined to be competent.

Honaker had been treated to restore his competency, mostly with medication, at Heartland Behavorial Healthcare in Massillon.

The competency issue has been holding up Honaker’s criminal case, which still hasn’t been set for trial yet.

A competency report from a Heartland doctor will be examined at an Aug. 12 pre-trial in front of Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan, who is hearing the murder case.

In April of 2013, Logan had to order Honaker to cooperate with psychologists who wanted to examine him per the court’s order. He was failing to take prescribed medication until his transfer from Trumbull County Jail to Heartland.

Honaker 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 July 31, 2012, 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.

cbobby@tribtoday.com