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Judge Says Conn. Man Can Face Trial

August 25, 1998

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) _ A man who earned As and Bs in college after he was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial for murder lost a second bid Tuesday to have the charges dropped.

Superior Court Judge John Ronan refused to dismiss the case against Kenneth Curtis, saying the ruling that spared him a trial doesn’t bar prosecution now.

The fact that a judge in 1989 released Curtis from custody and ordered him to undergo annual psychiatric reviews ``demonstrates that the court did not feel that the issue ... was resolved with any definite finality,″ Ronan said.

Curtis’ lawyers said his academic records were illegally seized and the incompetency ruling has never been overturned.

Curtis, 32, was deemed incompetent to stand trial for the slaying of his estranged girlfriend, 21-year-old Donna Kalson. She was shot in the head and her date wounded outside a Stratford restaurant on Oct. 30, 1987.

Curtis suffered brain damage and partial paralysis when he shot himself in the head after Kalson’s death. The injury left him in a wheelchair.

At the time of the slaying, psychiatrists said Curtis couldn’t communicate with lawyers. In 1990, an appeals court lifted the restrictions on his release without commenting on his competency.

In November, Curtis was arrested again after authorities discovered he earned a 3.3 grade-point average in five years at Middlesex Community-Technical College, Gateway Community-Technical College and Southern Connecticut State University.

His lawyers have tried to bar prosecutors from ordering another competency exam and taking the case to trial.

Curtis, who is free on $75,000 bond and lives in Cheshire, sat slumped in his wheelchair during the proceedings. His attorney, Salvatore DePiano, said he will appeal.

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