Mental exam report pending for woman charged in baby’s death

Michele Lynn Wood, charged with manslaughter stemming from a June 12th, 2018 auto accident causing injuries to an expectant mother and leading to the death of her baby, has undergone a mental evaluation. The report is expected to be completed and furnished to the court shortly, allowing the case to proceed, according to an announcement made in Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.

It is customary for all activity in a case to stop until results from mental examinations are received, and it is determined the person being tested is fit to proceed. If not found fit, the person is generally committed to the custody of the Department of Human Services to receive psychiatric care.

Wood's attorney has filed a notice of intent to rely on the defense of mental disease or defect in the case. Wood underwent the mental evaluation Nov. 21st last year to determine her fitness to proceed and if she can be held criminally responsible for her acts.

According to court records, Wood is said to have exhibited bizarre behavior while locked up in the Baxter County jail, including screaming loudly on a nonstop basis.

She was examined by a mental health professional who reported Wood had been pounding very hard on the isolation cell door and glass for days at a time.

Wood was also reported to be making offensive and aggressive gestures. Her speech was described as little more than "rambling nonsense."

The person conducting the interview with Wood locally reported it was possible the Mountain Home woman was driving during what might have been a psychotic episode at the time of the accident.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed in the case, the 44-year-old Wood is charged with driving in a reckless manner June 12th of last year as she made her way through a wide swath of the county. A number of calls were made to 911 reporting her progress, as well as information on her erratic activities both inside and outside her vehicle.

Eventually, a witness reported Wood's vehicle had passed him at a high rate of speed in the area of the Mountain Home square. As it went around a curve a short distance from the courthouse, her car collided with another vehicle. A passerby rushed a female passenger in the car hit by Wood to Baxter Regional Medical Center. It was determined the woman was eight months pregnant.

The woman, later identified as Ashley Roemmich, was taken immediately into surgery after reaching BRMC and a female baby was delivered. The baby was transported to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock where it died after being taken off life support about two days later.

Bodycam video recorded at the scene of the accident shows a passenger in Wood's car telling police after the collision, "She was driving way too fast for conditions coming around that curve. I told her to slow down."

WebReadyTM Powered by WireReady® NSI