Crime & Courts

Is woman accused in Rosewood killing fit to stand trial? Court orders mental screening

‘Her house is full of blood’: Hear 911 call that started a Columbia murder investigation

On August 9, Peggy Bowers returned from the grocery store to the house of Joan Staub's and found the door open. Inside she found Staub's body. Here is the 911 call from the incident.
Up Next
On August 9, Peggy Bowers returned from the grocery store to the house of Joan Staub's and found the door open. Inside she found Staub's body. Here is the 911 call from the incident.

A woman accused of an August murder in Rosewood is going through testing to see if she can stand trial.

A judge ordered Peggy Bowers, 67, to undergo a competency observation evaluation, according to court records.

Bowers is charged in the death of Joan Staub, who was found dead in her home on Aug. 9, 2018. Bowers and Staub were well-known Rosewood residents. Staub, known as a selfless individual to those close to her, had taken Bowers into her home over the years. She was living with Staub at the time of the killing.

Bowers was known to be frequently homeless and believed to be mentally ill, according to neighbors and friends who spoke with The State in October. People who knew Bowers well said she looked for help from MIRCI, an organization that assists individuals with mental illness,

Joan around Christmas time in 2017.
Joan Staub during Christmas 2017. She loved jewelry, her family said. Here she wears two brooches and two necklaces. Provided by Angel Sellers

The competency evaluation is the next step in court proceedings that could take more than a year to be finalized.

A competency evaluation is a mental health screening process that assures the defendant has the capacity to understand the charges against her and can assist in her defense. The state’s Department of Mental Health does the testing.

During the mental assessment, the defendant’s background is investigated and one-on-one interviews are conducted.

A defendant can be deemed competent, not competent, or not competent but likely to be restored, which means the defendant could go through rehabilitation that would allow her to stand trial.

If the conclusion is incompetency, the defendant is committed to the Department of Mental Health. The court stays involved with the defendant and a judge can allow a release to a half-way home if the defendant is rehabilitated.

Bowers is represented by the Richland County Public Defenders Office. Her defense also filed motions to disclose the evidence investigators have gathered and for law enforcement to stop any questioning of her, the court records show.

Angela Sellers, Staub’s sister, believes Bowers should stand trial

“I know she’s competent,” Sellers said.

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC

David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.

  Comments