SHEBOYGAN (AP) - A Sheboygan woman accused of killing her baby daughter 55 years ago was found competent to stand trial Tuesday, clearing the way for a jury trial that likely will begin in January.
Ruby C. Klokow, who was charged after her adult son came forward in 2008 with stories of horrific childhood abuse, never claimed mental incompetence. But her attorney had raised concerns about her ability to assist in her own defense and requested a competency exam.
The doctor who conducted the competency exam concluded that Klokow, 76, has no mental issues that would prevent her from receiving a fair trial.
After reviewing the doctor's report, Judge Angela Sutkiewicz set a status conference for Nov. 6. If the prosecutor and defense are unable to reach a plea agreement by then, the judge likely will set a trial date.
"There's no plea agreement out there now," Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco said. "We just want to make every effort possible to reach resolution if we can."
A message left with defense attorney Kirk Obear was not immediately returned.
James Klokow Jr. told police his mother regularly beat him and choked him, and kicked him in the legs with steel-toed boots so often that he still has knee problems. He spoke of his mother breaking his arm and nose. He said she once forced him to stay in the basement for so long that he had to lap water from the floor to quench his thirst.
He also described his mother covering the head of his mentally challenged younger brother and striking the wailing boy's toes one by one with a hammer.
In an interview with investigators 54 years after her infant daughter died, Klokow admitted causing the girl's death and told investigators she was sorry, according to the criminal complaint. However, Obear has questioned the circumstances under which his client was asked about, and allegedly admitted to, something that happened five decades earlier.
Barring a plea agreement in November, a trial likely will begin in January, a few months shy of Klokow's 77th birthday.
"She's in fairly good health so I don't really have any concerns," DeCecco said.
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