Originally created 09/14/99

Judge rules woman was insane



An elderly Augusta woman whose gunshots damaged her neighbors' home and led to a nearly three-hour standoff with police in January was found innocent Monday by reason of insanity.

In a Richmond County Superior Court trial before Judge Carl C. Brown Jr., Bobbie Jean Battle sat silently, listening to former Dent Street neighbors, a psychiatrist and a psychologist testify Monday.

Ms. Battle, 64, was severely psychotic when brought to Georgia Regional Hospital on Jan. 20, Dr. Vijay Maurya testified. With medication, she now is better but still having delusions, he said. Richmond County sheriff's officers took Ms. Battle to the hospital after SWAT team members stormed her house and arrested her.

That afternoon, Ms. Battle had fired gunshots at the neighbors' house, narrowly missing 80-year-old George Williams Sr., who was sitting in a recliner at home when bullets slammed through a window.

It wasn't the first time neighbors had heard gunfire from Ms. Battle's house, and they testified she always carried a weapon when she left home -- even if she was just walking her dog.

The inside of Ms. Battle's home looked like a war zone, sheriff's Investigator Kenny Rogers testified Monday. He counted between 200 and 300 bullet holes inside and outside her home, he said.

Assistant District Attorney Ashley Wright told Judge Brown that prosecutors are concerned about Ms. Battle's history of mental illness and refusal to take anti-psychotic medication.

Defense attorney Randolph Frails asked the judge to find Ms. Battle innocent by reason of insanity. The single Vietnam War veteran who has no children lost her Dent Street home to foreclosure this year. She is 64 and has no prior arrests, Mr. Frails said.

Judge Brown, who heard the case without a jury, found Ms. Battle innocent by reason of insanity. She will be treated and evaluated at Georgia Regional Hospital for at least a month. Doctors will then return to Judge Brown with a recommendation for her future treatment.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.