Murder trial delayed after report says Charleston defendant not criminally responsible at the time

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A forensic psychological evaluation says a man arrested after going on a violent crime spree on Charleston’s West Side earlier this year that included a murder and a car-jacking was at the time not criminally responsible for his actions.

Joshua Andrew Drennen

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey accepted the report in the Joshua Drennen case Tuesday and ordered it sealed until a later date.

Bailey did not make a ruling on the report that came from Clifford Hudson, who was hired by the defense. She did grant a motion for prosecutors to have their own forensic psychological evaluation done by Charleston-based Clayman and Associates.

Bailey then rescheduled Drennen’s trial, which was supposed to start next Monday, to March 1, 2021.

Drennen’s attorney John Sullivan did not object to the motion from Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Drummond to have another evaluation of Drennen.

“The state has a right to an independent evaluation,” Sullivan said.

Drennen was indicted for first-degree murder, petit larceny, first-degree robbery, malicious wounding, assault during the commission of a felony, possession of a stolen vehicle, attempted first-degree robbery, assault during the commission of a felony, attempted murder of a police officer and malicious assault of a law enforcement officer for an incident Feb. 11.

According to court records, Drennen was shot twice by Charleston Patrolman Terrence “Austin” Casto near the Washington Street Go-Mart after attacking the officer with a flat iron. The shooting ended a crime spree that allegedly included the murder of Barbara Steele, 77, in her West Side home.

Drennen then allegedly carjacked a vehicle at the nearby Walgreens parking lot. Police said he then attempted another carjacking before encountering Casto near the Go-Mart near the Washington Street exit of Interstate 64.

Bailey set the new trial date and scheduled a pretrial hearing in the case for Feb. 17, 2021.

Drennen attended Tuesday’s hearing via video from the South Central Regional Jail.