Court Waits For Accused Killer’s Mental Evaluation

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The murder trial of the Fayetteville man accused of shooting his girlfriend execution-style will likely be rescheduled to allow for the suspect’s mental evaluation to be completed, according to court documents and an attorney in the case.

Eric Frankenhauser is set to appear in Washington County Circuit Court on Monday for the start of his trial. He was sent to the Arkansas State Hospital on March 4 for a mental evaluation, to determine if he is fit to stand trial. The results of the mental evaluation have not yet been released to attorneys, according to documents obtained from the Washington County Circuit Clerk.

Frankenhauser’s attorney, Madison Pat Aydelott III, filed a motion for continuous this week, a move that has not been opposed by the judge or prosecutors.

Mental evaluations are mandatory in capital murder cases, according to court documents.

Frankenhauser is charged with the Class Y capital murder of Jessica Stewart punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without parole, officials said.

Shackled and wearing orange-and-white striped detainee garb, Frankenhauser pleaded not guilty during his arraignment at the Washington County Detention Center on Aug. 22 after Magistrate Judge Ray Reynolds read the felony charge against him.

Not guilty pleas are common during felony arraignments during which defendants are read the charges against them and are asked to enter a plea.

In the photographs accompanying this story, Frankenhauser is seen at his arraignment in the detention center.

Frankenhauser, 40, was arrested in Franklin County, Ohio, in August in connection with the shooting death of 39-year-old Jessica Stewart of Fayetteville.

He was seen walking down a road 12 miles west of Columbus when he was stopped by deputies and arrested without incident, said Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor.

Stewart was found shot in the head execution-style in front of a residence at 2228 W. Wedington Drive on Aug. 5, police said.  She died the next day at Washington Regional Medical Center.

Neighbors said Frankenhauser was Stewart’s boyfriend.