Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 24, 2013

Va. judge OKs mental exam for cold case defendant


Associated Press

WARRENTON, Va. — A judge ordered a mental competency examination Tuesday for a West Virginia prison inmate charged in a decades-old killing in Virginia’s horse country.

Ronald Richard Cloud’s attorney told Fauquier County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker that his client has exhibited signs of a form of dementia.

Attorney Katherine Martell said the 65-year-old defendant can’t effectively participate in his defense because of memory loss, according to FauquierNow.com (http://bit.ly/162KqqD).

Cloud is serving a life sentence for an abduction and rape in West Virginia. In January, he was charged with the New Year’s Eve 1980 shooting of Kinloch Farm manager Brad Baker. Baker died the next day in a Washington hospital.

Cloud’s jury trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 16 in Warrenton.

In seeking the mental examination, Martell said Cloud has trouble remembering conversations she has had with him and has suffered mini-strokes.

“We don’t believe he can properly assist in his defense,” Ms. Martell said in response to a question from Parker.

With “some reluctance,” Parker granted Martell’s request.

He referred Cloud to a clinical psychologist with the Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services Board for evaluation. A report is due by Aug. 23.

Baker, who was 30, managed an estate in The Plains owned by relatives of Stephen Currier of the famed Currier and Ives prints and banker and philanthropist Andrew Mellon.

Cloud’s stepfather had been fired by Baker on the day of the shooting, which meant that Cloud’s stepfather and mother would be evicted from their home.   

At a hearing in April, Cloud’s brother, Ernest C. Cloud, said he was with his brother when he shot Baker in his house during a confrontation.

West Virginia records show Cloud is listed as a prisoner in the Mount Olive Correctional Facility in West Virginia.