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Beshear signs bill closing loophole for incompetent defendants amid Cane Madden trial

Madden, accused of raping and cracking an eight-year-old girl's skull in August 2019, had been ruled incompetent to stand trial.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Weeks after a Jefferson Circuit Court judge ruled that Cane Madden is incompetent to stand trial, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has signed a bill closing a loophole involving incompetent defendants deemed dangerous.

House Bill 310 would allow a Commonwealth Attorney to file a petition for an involuntary commitment for violent offenders who are incompetent to stand trial and would not benefit from additional treatment but are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Without the bill, a defendant who was ruled incompetent to stand trial but was a danger to themselves or others could be involuntarily hospitalized only if it was determined they could benefit from treatment. If that was not determined, the person would be released into the public.

Madden, accused of raping and cracking an eight-year-old girl's skull in August 2019, had been previously ruled incompetent to stand trial in a separate sexual assault case. The day before he allegedly committed the crime, he was in custody but walked free due to the loophole. He was once again ruled incompetent, but the new law, which was signed before Madden's hearing on Thursday, will impact his case.

Community activists said Madden's case showed the failure of the justice system.

"That is a disaster – a bomb waiting to explode," said community activist George Fields in 2020. "If they don't give justice where it's supposed to be at, he's going to get killed or he's going to kill someone else."

After the Commonwealth Attorney files a petition, an evidentiary hearing would be held before a circuit court judge where the defendant would be represented by both an attorney and a guardian appointed by the court.

In the hearing, which would take place after an evaluation by two medical professionals, the Commonwealth would be required to prove that the defendant is guilty and prove involuntary commitment is necessary. If that is proven, the defendant will be placed in a forensic psychiatric facility and will have follow-up reviews to determine if continued commitment is necessary.

Wine's office thanked Beshear, Senators Morgan McGarvey and Julie Raque Adams and Rep. Jason Nemes for work on the bill.

"There was no prohibition once he was released where he could travel," Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine said. "California neighborhood specifically should be relieved, and I think the community in Jefferson county generally should be very relieved that the governor and the legislature worked so hard to get this passed."

RELATED: Louisville man confesses to raping, fracturing skull of 8-year-old girl

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