Crime

Elderly murder suspect destined to stay in state hospitals

Kristal Locke will spend her 90th birthday on Wednesday in the San Antonio State Hospital.

The Tarrant County murder suspect will probably spend her remaining birthdays in some kind of state confinement.

That’s because in May, after a court-ordered evaluation, a psychiatrist wrote that it “seems unlikely she will ever be able to have her competency restored.”

Locke is accused of fatally shooting her neighbor Linda Porter on April 11, 2003, at their condominium complex in the 600 block of Bellaire Drive in Hurst. According to Hurst police, Locke, then 78, believed that Porter, 55, was trying to steal a man from her.

Porter didn’t know the man, but Locke was fixated on him and had been harassing him for more than 20 years.

Locke was found incompetent to stand trial and was committed to a state hospital. Today, she is the oldest person under indictment in Tarrant County in a pending murder case.

Psychiatrists say Locke has severe delusional disorder.

“She is unable to cooperate sufficiently with an attorney to prepare a defense because of her pervasive illogicality around her killing Linda Porter,” Dr. Raymond Faber wrote in his May evaluation.

On the other hand, Faber wrote, Locke was cooperative and readily explained that she was being kept in a hospital because she had shot and killed Porter.

Incompetent for trial

His evaluation is almost a carbon copy of every one she has had since 2003. By law, Locke must go before a jury each year to determine if she’s competent, and since 2003, jurors have found her incompetent.

Santiago Salinas of Fort Worth, who was appointed her attorney in April 2013, agreed with the assessment. He visited Locke in San Antonio in early September.

“It’s sad,” Salinas said this week. “I don’t see her being competent, and she’ll remain a patient at state hospitals.”

In San Antonio, Locke takes medications such as Prozac, Librium and Thorazine.

She prefers that her surviving son not visit her, but she takes telephone calls and visits from a niece from Houston, one of her few living relatives.

The niece could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Locke is one of 869 people deemed “incompetent to stand trial” who are being treated in state hospitals, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Elderly patients are not new in the state hospitals.

“We once had a patient who was more than 100,” Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email.

Years of delusion

In an April 2003 interview, John Cosgrove told the Star-Telegram that he met Locke in 1980 at the Texas Rehabilitation Commission in Fort Worth where he worked and where Locke sought help for a neck ailment.

“I took her application for assistance, and I also could tell that she could use some mental-health help,” Cosgrove said. “I did all I could that day and closed the case.”

A week later, Cosgrove said, he received the first call from Locke in what would become 23 years of telephone harassment.

Faber’s May evaluation, other psychiatric reports obtained by the Star-Telegram and Tarrant County court records indicate that Locke has been mentally ill since her mid-30s. They give this account of the shooting and Locke’s mental history.

Locke and her husband had two sons during 34 years of marriage. They divorced in 1978. She told doctors that by that time, she had been mentally ill for 20 years. Her illness went largely untreated, she said. Before 1982, she was hospitalized only twice at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth for being overtly psychotic with paranoid delusions. Despite her illness, she was able to maintain work in accounting.

In July 1982, Locke was accused of shooting a woman in the driveway of the woman’s Bedford home. Locke believed that the woman, a former friend, was trying to steal Cosgrove.

A few months later, a Tarrant County jury determined that Locke was incompetent to stand trial and she was committed to Rusk State Hospital where she spent a year before being released because doctors determined she was competent to stand trial. But prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss the attempted murder charge.

Then in December 2001, Locke became a suspect in a harassment case in Haltom City after a woman told police that Locke threatened to kill her because Locke believed the woman was trying to steal Cosgrove. Haltom City never filed a case against Locke because they had no recordings of the threats.

Through all the years, she continued to harass Cosgrove, even after he moved with a new wife to Virginia, then to Oklahoma and back to Virginia.

In 2003, days before the fatal shooting of Porter, Locke was banned from the Hurst Recreation Center after she got into a verbal confrontation with a female employee who Locke believed was trying to have a relationship with Cosgrove.

Locke even began telephone harassment of Hurst police and intensified her phone campaign on Cosgrove. Locke made 106 calls to 911 from April 3 to April 11, the day that Porter was shot, according to Hurst police records. She was calling Cosgrove at least five times a day.

And despite her history of mental illness, on April 10, Locke walked into Affordable Firearms in Hurst, passed the mandated background check, and bought a .38-caliber handgun for $162.38.

She has told doctors that she knew how to use it because she grew up on a ranch.

The next day, she killed Linda Porter.

Locke spent 10 years at the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon and has spent one year at the San Antonio hospital.

Her May evaluation states that Locke had no thoughts of harming herself and she did not identify anyone she might hurt.

“She states that she has been having difficulty getting her records cleared of mental problems for the last 23 years,” Faber wrote on her evaluations. “Her insight into having a mental disorder is nil and her judgment is grossly impaired.”

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

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