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Mental competency of accused grandma called into question

The mental health of at least one of the grandparents charged with hog-tying children in their home was called into question Wednesday when the lawyer for Judith Kay Mann asked a Kitsap County Superior Court judge to delay his client’s arraignment long enough to evaluate her competency to stand trial.

Mann, 61, and her husband, Larry Lee, 66, were charged June 15 with one count each of assault of a child in the second degree and unlawful imprisonment after allegations surfaced last Saturday that they abused two adopted grandchildren.

After the charges were read, Larry Mann pleaded not guilty to both counts and his case was set aside for trial, but Judith Mann’s attorney Roger Hunko requested a week continuance before he entered a plea on his client’s behalf.

Hunko told Judge Sally Olsen he needed the extra time to evaluate Mann, whom he suspected may not be competent to stand trial.

Olsen granted the delay and scheduled the defendant’s next court appearance for June 22.

Outside of the courtroom, Hunko said he had not yet decided if Mann needed to be evaluated by a medical doctor to determine her competency, and declined to elaborate on what led him to believe she might be incompetent.

Mann and her husband were arrested on June 11 after a thin and disheveled 10-year-old boy in pajamas was found walking barefoot on the Manns’ street around 4:30 a.m. that day.

The boy claimed to have escaped their house after having been tied up for several days, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies entered the home, they discovered the boy’s 8-year-old sister hog-tied — her ankles and wrists bound with plastic zip-ties — on a mattress.

They also found a third child, reportedly the 11-year-old son of Judith Mann’s son James Vance, who was not tied up but who appeared malnourished.

According to Vance, his son and the other two children share the same mother, but custody was of all three was granted to his mother and step-father.

Both Manns were then arrested and booked into Kitsap County Jail, where they remain on $100,000 bail each.

At his arraignment, Larry Mann’s attorney requested that her client’s bail be reduced, citing the defendant’s claim that he could not pay the high amount and was concerned he would lose his job if he remained in jail.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Casad asked that the bail remain high, expressing concern that the defendant traveled out of state regularly for his job. Citing the serious nature of the charges, Judge Olsen kept bail for both defendants at $100,000.

The second-degree assault charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, while unlawful imprisonment carries a five-year sentence.

Each count against the Manns also carried a special allegation of domestic violence, and Casad asked Olsen to sign orders prohibiting both defendants from having any contact with the three children named in the case.

Although the third child is not listed as a victim, Casad said he is a witness and the Manns should not be allowed to communicate with him.

Larry Mann’s attorney requested that he not be forced to sign the no-contact order in regards to his grandson, citing her client’s wish to maintain a relationship with the boy.

Judge Olsen denied the request and signed all the no-contact orders for both defendants.

Larry Mann’s trial is scheduled for Aug. 8, and his next court appearance will be an omnibus hearing on July 13. Judith Mann’s delayed arraignment is scheduled for June 22.

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