Weatherford Democrat

November 19, 2012

Suspect will get another mental evaluation

Christin Coyne

PARKER COUNTY — A convicted felon and suspected Parker County church thief who was rearrested Wednesday after escaping a mental hospital will likely be reevaluated for competency to stand trial.

Billy Clay Wade, 48, spent two months on the lam before a multi-agency effort that included the Weatherford-Parker County Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team and the U.S. Marshals apprehended him in Fort Worth this week living under an assumed name.

As of Friday afternoon, Wade was being held in the Parker County Jail without bond.

Wade faces a number of felony charges regarding suspected thefts and burglaries in Parker County, as well as evading arrest or detention with a vehicle.

Going forward, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said he expects to request that Wade be reevaluated for competency to stand trial.

After a court-appointed psychologist evaluated Wade at the request of Wade’s court-appointed defense attorney days before his scheduled trial in July, 43rd District Judge Trey Loftin found that Wade did not “have the sufficient present ability to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding or a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.”

Wade was committed to North Texas State Hospital in Wichita Falls, where there is a program designed specifically to help patients become competent to stand trial.

“They stay there until they’re returned as competent or until a particular time period goes by,” whichever part of state law is applicable, Swain said.

After less than a week at North Texas State Hospital in September, Wade reportedly escaped using a fire extinguisher to break a window.

Wade was located in Fort Worth living under a former classmate’s name and arrested Wednesday, according to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.

Wade was in possession of a Dodge truck that had been reported stolen out of Wichita County and a travel trailer reported stolen out of Callahan County, the sheriff’s office reported.

Inside the trailer, investigators reportedly found about $60,000 worth of stolen property, including a 60-inch television, tools and electronics.

He faces additional charges from Tarrant County and could face escape charges from Wichita County, as well, according to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.

Wade - who has convictions for escape in addition to the evading arrest charge from last year that he currently faces - was considered a flight risk, according to Swain, something that was communicated to the hospital.

However, because of the way state law is written, the hospital could not put him in the maximum security facility because they could only consider the offenses he was currently incarcerated for, Swain said.

“[Everyone knew] he’s totally a flight risk, but under the law their hands were tied,” Swain said.

Parker County charges

Wade, who was released from prison in 2011 on parole for a 30-year sentence regarding numerous offenses, according to the sheriff’s office, was first arrested in Parker County in August 2011 on a parole violation warrant, as well as various out of county warrants, including bail jumping and criminal mischief.

Wade was arrested again in October 2011 after, the sheriff’s office says, Wade was found living off of Tin Top Road in a stolen trailer filled with stolen property tied to at least three Parker County burglaries and driving a stolen truck. Weatherford-Parker County Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team members and U.S. Marshals attempted to arrest Wade, who allegedly fled in the stolen truck before driving it into a sand pit at the end of Montgomery Lane and escaping on foot.

He was reportedly located two days after that incident and arrested.

Wade was subsequently charged with third degree felony criminal mischief regarding a copper theft at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Aledo, when components from five rooftop air conditioning units were stolen in May 2011, causing around $60,000 in damage.

Sheriff’s investigators said that during an interview with the suspect, Wade identified a bracelet left behind on the church roof as his, saying he dropped it at the time of the theft. Though investigators had reportedly suspected Wade for some time, they were unable to link him to the crime until that time.

Between May and July last year, six other Parker County churches were hit with air-conditioning thefts or significant damage when parts of air-conditioning units were taken, though Wade has not been charged in connection with those.