By Max Hrenda
A local attorney said a former U.S. Senate candidate might not be competent to stand trial as he prepares to face two separate charges from two counties.
Nevertheless, on Tuesday morning Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood set dates for a competency hearing and two jury trials for charges against Thomas Kenneth “T.K.” Owens.
Owens is charged in Washington County with solicitation to commit first-degree murder of a Carter County deputy, and in Carter County, Owens has been accused of seeking to solicit a sexual favor from a minor.
Before either of those charges can be tried, however, Owens’ attorney, David Robbins, said that issues regarding his competency needed to be settled.
According to Robbins, agents of Frontier Health, who were tasked with performing a mental evaluation on Owens, originally said that he was capable of standing trial. Those same people, however, say that may not be permanent.
“They have real concerns about his competency,” Robbins said. “He’s in a very volatile state. They’re worried week-to-week whether or not he’s going to be competent to stand trial.”
Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks, who is handling Owens’ prosecution, said that he has been told “exactly what Mr. Robbins has said” regarding Owens’ mental health.
“They have concerns that, one day, Mr. Owens will be competent, and then, soon after that, he will be incompetent,” he said.
In light of Owens’ wavering mental state, Brooks suggested that the competency hearing and the two trials be held in short succession.