Looking gaunt and disheveled from a 37-day hunger strike, 67-year-old Robert Fiege appeared in Madison County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday, Dec. 10, to argue he is both sane and innocent.
While no ruluing was made on either arguement, visiting Judge Steven P. Beathard is going to let the professionals rule on the latter.
Fiege is charged with two counts of abduction, stemming from an incident outside London Apartments in July during which he allegedly tried to snatch a 4-year-old girl from a complex playground. Other children pulled the child away and later identified Fiege as the alleged abductor from a photograph.
Fiege denied grabbing the child and said London police failed to thoroughly investigate the incident. Police Chief Dave Wiseman said only the victim and three other children witnessed the alleged abduction.
Fiege was jailed at Tri-County, following his July arrest. He refused to eat from Oct. 22 to Nov. 27 to draw the attention of media and federal authorities to his argument.
Fiege fired Nick Adkins, his first court-appointed attorney. A second defense lawyer, Thomas Arrington, resigned after Fiege said he would hire private counsel. Former Judge Robert D. Nichols appointed assistant state public defender Bill Mooney to the case when Fiege failed to hire a lawyer.
Mooney initially requested a mental competency assessment on his client. But Fiege refused to cooperate with an evaluation by Westerville psychologist Dr. Bob Stinson.
“I’m 67. All my friends know I am not mentally ill,” Fiege said. “I didn’t want a competency hearing.”
Fiege tried to fire Mooney on Tuesday, saying his lawyer conspired with prosecutors for a conviction. But Beathard refused to go along.
“You didn’t hire him. You can’t fire him,” Beathard told Fiege. “He was appointed by the court.”
Based on Stinson’s suspicion that Fiege suffers mental illness and is incapable of assisting with his own defense, Beathard ordered Fiege to undergo 20 days of in-patient treatment and evaluation at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare in Columbus.
“I’m taking the Fifth (Amendment) in the nut house,” Fiege responded.
Beathard also postponed Fiege’s trial to March 19, with a pre-trial hearing set for Jan. 9.
“I suggest you work with Mr. Mooney,” Beathard advised Fiege.
Fiege said he’s contacted the FBI, the Ohio Supreme Court, Gov. John Kasich and various media outlets to say he is innocent and his civil rights are being violated.
He left the courtroom threatening to contact the television news magazine “60 Minutes” and Time magazine.