Further court proceedings are indefinitely on hold for a local man facing a sex charge until after he returns from a treatment facility regarding a recent incompetency finding.
A placement in a state facility for a further evaluation or treatment is on order for Larry D. Mercer, 71, of Atchison, not to exceed 90 days for mental health professionals to concerning restoration of a competency level to withstand trial in accordance with statutory guidelines.
Mercer was present Friday, April 12, with his court-appointed attorney Rex Lane in Atchison County District Court for a status hearing on the matter. Lane referred to the incompetency finding announced a week earlier before he and Atchison County Attorney Sherri Becker had reviewed the documents from the Guidance Center. Lane conveyed his belief the only option at this point is the statutory order for placement in a facility.
Judge Robert Bednar so ordered. In the meantime, Bednar is allowing Mercer is to remain at home until an opening becomes available at the appropriate facility. Bednar also advised the defendant’s family members to notify Lane in the event medical issues arise. He indicated it might be a several-month wait.
Mercer is currently out of jail on a $75,000 bond, awaiting retrial on one count aggravated indecent liberties with a child, punishable by life imprisonment with eligibility for parole after 25 years. A jury initially convicted Mercer in November 2016 on the charge and acquitted him on rape and sodomy charges.
Following an appeal hearing in the spring of 2017, the Kansas Court of Appeals judges ordered a new trial after they reversed the conviction based on trial errors. Mercer returned July of 2018 from El Dorado Correctional Facility to Atchison County Jail to await his new trial that was scheduled for Sept. 25 in district court. Mercer subsequently bailed out of jail. A few days before the trial, Mercer suffered a massive stroke.
The allegation against Mercer involves a female acquaintance younger than 14 years of age alleging unlawful touching on unknown dates from June of 2010 to December of 2015. Atchison Police Department authorities arrested Mercer in the early part of 2016.