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Attica woman charged with killing husband found not fit to stand trial

The Wyoming County woman charged with second-degree murder last spring in the death of her husband, whose body was found concealed under a manure pile on the couple’s farm, has been deemed not competent to stand trial by two physicians.

However, Wyoming County District Attorney Donald G. O’Geen said that he is contesting the doctors’ opinions of Charlene Mess’ mental state. He said that the physicians, who were hired at the request of the defense, based their findings on very brief interviews with the defendant (45 minutes and 75 minutes) and did not take into account the woman’s medical history or other extenuating factors.

Prosecutors will argue their side at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 14 in Wyoming County Court.

Mess, 48, is accused of killing her husband, Douglas W. Mess, 52, during an argument on April 19 at their dairy farm. One of the couple’s sons reported Douglas Mess missing the next day. His body was found, with hands tied behind his back, about eight hours later under three feet of manure 300 yards from the farmhouse on Exchange Street Road in the Town of Attica. Investigators believe he was struck on the head with a heavy object.

Should a judge agree that Charlene Mess is incompetent to stand trial, she could be held indefinitely in a secure psychiatric facility until her mental health improves.

The ruling of incompetency applies to a defendant’s ability to understand the court proceedings and to assist in his or her own defense. It is not an indication of the defendant’s mental state at the time the alleged crime was committed.