Competency review ordered for Utah woman charged in son's death
A preliminary hearing for a woman whose 2-year-old son was found dead in their River Heights home was postponed after Heidi Marie Rutchey's attorney asked that her mental competency be evaluated.
Rutchey, 42, is charged in Logan's 1st District Court with first-degree felony murder in the death of her son, Eli.
A judge was supposed to hear evidence in the case on Thursday, but Rutchey's attorney, David Perry, asked instead that the woman be evaluated and a determination be made on whether she has a "rational and factual understanding" of the charges against her.
Perry wrote in a court filing that Rutchey is unable to rationally discuss matters with him.
"She was under the impression that her attorney instructed her to stop taking her medication," Perry wrote. "When he actually insisted that she continue taking all prescribed medications."
Judge Thomas Willmore agreed to the evaluation, and set a competency review on Jan. 13.
An investigation by the medical examiner revealed that Rutchey's son died from suffocation or "some kind of airway interruption," according to a probable cause statement filed with the court.
Forensic tests determined that Eli had already been dead a week or more when law enforcement found his body. Court documents say the boy died as early as Aug. 27.
Cache County sheriff's deputies discovered the boy's death shortly after the mother went to Logan Regional Hospital seeking emergency medical treatment for herself on Sept. 4 for "a number of medical issues," according to the sheriff's office.
When hospital staff learned that she had a child, they were concerned for his well-being and sent law enforcement officers to check on him.
While at the hospital, the mother was distraught, court documents state. She called herself a "baby killer" and told hospital personnel that "something terrible has happened" and "he suffocated in the tub."
Rutchey remained hospitalized for several weeks before being booked into the Cache County jail.
After she was taken into custody, Rutchey told officers she had suffocated her son by placing her hand over his mouth and nose, the probable cause statement states. She then tried to kill herself by overdosing on medication.