Butler Twp. quadruple homicide suspect found competent; sides argue next steps

Defense says Stephen Marlow should stay at mental health facility, prosecutor calls it a waste of resources; court hearing set for June 12

A man accused of killing four people in Butler Twp. in 2022 has been ruled competent to stand trial by a doctor at the mental health facility where he’s received treatment over the past six months.

Stephen A. Marlow is facing 12 aggravated murder charges, eight aggravated burglary charges and one count each of tampering with evidence and having weapons while under disability in the deaths of Clyde W. Knox, 82; his wife, Eva “Sally” Knox, 78; Sarah J. Anderson, 41; and her daughter, Kayla E. Anderson, 15.

Within a motion filed Friday, attorney Michael Pentecost said Marlow’s defense team received a report May 29 from Dr. April Sutton, of Summit Behavioral Healthcare, who claims Marlow is now competent to stand trial, further recommending that he be returned to jail at the court’s discretion.

But Pentecost argues, based on the report and findings by Sutton, Marlow should remain at the treatment facility to maintain competency.

A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday, June 12.

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

According to Pentecost, the doctor’s report states Marlow has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but notes that his psychiatrist at the facility is “considering changing his diagnosis to delusional disorder.”

Pentecost’s filing describes delusional disorder as having a later onset than schizophrenia and typically presenting as more difficult to treat with a sole intervention of medication.

“Dr. Sutton further indicated that despite compliance with his medication, (Marlow’s) symptoms, specifically his delusions and auditory hallucinations, have continued,” Pentecost writes. “Defendant is no less delusional now than he was before he was adjudicated incompetent and ordered to Summit.”

In a subsequent memorandum filed Wednesday in response to the defense’s motion, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. asked that the court deny Marlow’s request to remain at the behavioral health facility.

“In her report, Dr. Sutton opines that defendant is currently capable of understanding the nature and objectives of the proceedings against him, that he is currently capable of assisting his attorneys in his defense, and that he is currently competent to stand trial,” Heck’s filing reads. “Dr. Sutton concludes her report by opining that ‘there is no clinical reason for (Marlow) to remain at Summit Behavioral Healthcare at this time.’ ”

Pentecost posits that the recommendation of an alternative to Marlow’s current medication or treatment regimen would be more appropriate given the potential change in diagnosis and the persistence of symptoms.

“Dr. Sutton recommends continuation of the same regimen that she acknowledges is not working,” Pentecost writes. “This raises significant concerns that if (Marlow) is ordered to return to jail that his symptoms will deteriorate and his alleged progress will decompensate and regress because he will not be receiving effective medical or therapeutic treatment at the jail.”

In his response, Heck asserts that Marlow has been unwilling to participate in the “full array of services” available at Summit.

“Defendant has refused to participate in individual therapy and competency restoration groups,” Heck writes, adding that Marlow’s confinement at the facility is effectively a waste of resources. “There are finite resources available with wait times for male beds at Summit being approximately six weeks ... Defendant’s confinement at Summit means one less bed available for someone who does need the care that Summit provides.”

Marlow’s defense team originally filed a not guilty by reason of insanity plea in December 2022. Since then, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis J. Adkins ordered three mental competency and sanity evaluations.

In November, Adkins signed an order finding Marlow incompetent to stand trial but able to be restored to competency with treatment.

Marlow is accused of shooting and killing four neighbors on Hardwicke Place on Aug. 5, 2022.

Around 11:35 a.m. that day, he reportedly walked into an open garage at 7120 Hardwicke Place and shot Sarah Anderson before going into the house and shooting Kayla Anderson multiple times. He then returned to the garage and shot Sarah Anderson again, according to a Vandalia Municipal Court affidavit.

Marlow then allegedly went to 7214 Hardwick Place and shot Clyde and Sally Knox multiple times in a detached garage, according to court documents.

He was arrested the next day in Lawrence, Kansas.

Investigators found a manifesto on what was believed to be Marlow’s computer after they served a search warrant at his parents’ home.

The manifesto, which included his name and address, mentioned conspiracy theories and beliefs his neighbors were sleeper cell terrorists, according to Vandalia Municipal Court records. He also reportedly mentioned hearing voices in his head that spoke to him.

Prosecutor Heck previously said the death penalty is “on the table” in the case.

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