Norman to undergo mental evaluation to determine fitness to stand trial

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Federally-charged Cassville man's trial on hold

The trial of a Cassville man, charged with three federal counts involving illicit sexual activity with children, is now on hold after his counsel requested he undergo a mental evaluation.

Chase Norman, 24, of Cassville, is charged with two counts of using a means of interstate commerce to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity, and one count of enticement of a minor to produce child pornography.

His jury trial was set for Friday, but Norman's attorney, Public Defender Ian Lewis, filed a motion in December 2014 to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine if he is fit to stand trial.

According to court documents filed by Lewis, the evaluation aims to determine, first, whether Norman is suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to understand the nature and consequences of the proceeding against him, and second, to see if at the time of the alleged offense, Norman was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of the wrongfulness of his acts, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect.

Norman agreed it is in his best interest to undergo an evaluation, and Patrick Carney, assistant United States attorney who is prosecuting the case, did not oppose the motion.

"[On Dec. 10, 2014], counsel interviewed the defendant, and during the course of the

conversation, it became evident to undersigned counsel that the defendant's mental health should be evaluated," Lewis said in his motion.

The mental evaluation will push back Norman's jury trial, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 12.

In an affidavit filed on Oct. 10, James Smith, task force officer with the Homeland Security Investigations, said Norman allegedly exchanged obscene photos and attempted to engage in sexual acts with a 12-year-old Purdy girl.

On Sept. 23, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force assisted Purdy Police in an investigation involving Norman, who was suspected of sending and receiving obscene photos of the girl using an iPod app called KIK.

Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe obtained consent from the girl's mother to search an iPod belonging to the girl, which allegedly revealed numerous chat communications, where Norman referenced sexual acts and asked for explicit photos of the girl.

Norman also allegedly added the girl as a friend on Facebook and contacted her via SnapChat.

The child indicated the two talked about three times per day through KIK, where Norman requested and sent explicit photos.

On Oct. 6, police obtained permission from the girl's mother to take over the KIK and Facebook accounts of the child, initiating undercover contact with Norman.

He was arrested in a sting operation in Purdy, and he allegedly admitted to having KIK conversations with a girl who said she was 13. He said he originally met the girl on the website, MeetMe.com, and she originally said she was 18 years old, later telling him she was 13. When confronted about the content of the chats and scheduled meeting with the child, Norman allegedly admitted he had planned to pick her up and take her to his Cassville apartment to engage in consensual sexual acts.

Norman also allegedly revealed the girl was not the first he had met online and arranged to meet in person. He said in the summer of 2013, he met a 14-year-old girl from Monett and had consensual sex with her.

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