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Psychiatrist To Examine Aged Couple

January 10, 1998

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) _ Newlyweds Charles Barnes and Constance Driscoll are hoping a psychiatrist will deem their love the real thing and let them stay married.

He’s 92. She’s 84 and has Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Daniel Plotkin has been asked to evaluate whether Ms. Driscoll was mentally competent when she married Barnes in a secret ceremony last fall.

The report is the latest in a string of legalities that the couple has gone through since Barnes whisked his intended from a nursing home and got hitched, against the wishes of the bride’s family.

Court-appointed conservators for Ms. Driscoll want the marriage annulled, but will not fight it if Plotkin determines she was competent, said Steven Moyer, her attorney.

Barnes, who has known Ms. Driscoll for 50 years, is hoping for the best when the psychiatric report is made Jan. 27. He also said he is keeping a promise to Ms. Driscoll’s late husband to care for her.

``She’s my wife,″ Barnes said softly outside court Friday. ``I’d just like to have her released from the jail that she’s in and that we can go about our own business and live like any American, free to enjoy our lives.

``She’s told me to do everything and anything I can to get her out of that place.″

Ms. Driscoll’s husband died 30 years ago. Barnes’ wife died eight years ago. The two began spending time together, and Barnes said they fell in love.

But Ms. Driscoll’s family claimed Barnes just wanted her $800,000 savings, so they had her moved to a retirement home last year in Northern California.

In September, Barnes, who says he has plenty of his own money, went to the home and had Ms. Driscoll flown to Southern California for a small church wedding. Afterward he had her moved into a Glendale retirement community near his Tudor-style home outside Los Angeles.

Her family was livid. When Ms. Driscoll was found by firefighters wandering several blocks from the community, a conservator had her moved to a nursing home in Pasadena.

That meant Barnes and his new wife could only meet in a noisy reception area crowded with other nursing home patients. His lawyers hope that will change.

``I’ve seen them together once,″ said one of Barnes’ attorneys, Linda Paquette. ``You could just see how she brightened up when she saw Charles, and pushed everybody aside and walked up to him and put one hand on each side of his cheeks and just pulled him up to her and they kissed.″

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