Suspect is found incompetent

AIKEN - One of five men accused of chasing down and killing a newspaper carrier two years ago after mistaking her for a rival drug dealer has been found incapable of standing trial.

Tremaine Tyler, who was charged with assault with intent to kill in connection with the slaying of Aiken Standard carrier Debra Dorch, will instead be committed to a mental health facility, said Bill Weeks, a deputy solicitor for Aiken County.

Mr. Tyler, 26, was found to have an IQ in the 50s and is mentally retarded, Mr. Weeks said.

"There really wasn't any way we could counter it," he explained.

Mr. Tyler was found not competent to stand trial in a hearing in Aiken County Court on June 12. The determination was made by doctors from the Department of Disability and Special Needs after a court-ordered mental evaluation.

As part of the evaluation, it was found that because of Mr. Tyler's mental deficiencies he could not assist with his defense and likely did not understand the charges against him, Mr. Weeks said. Prosecutors now will file a petition with probate court asking for Mr. Tyler's commitment.

Mr. Weeks said he did not know how long Mr. Tyler, who is in custody at the Aiken County Detention Center, might be institutionalized.

The shooting happened early Aug. 27, 2005, as Ms. Dorch and another Standard employee, Joe Brewer, were delivering papers near Union Academy and Windsor roads near Salley. Authorities say they were shot at when they backed up to deliver a newspaper they had missed, and were then chased down and fired upon until their truck crashed more than two miles away.

Ms. Dorch died of a gunshot wound to the heart. Mr. Brewer's injuries were not life-threatening.

Four other men were arrested after Ms. Dorch's death, three of them charged with murder: Mr. Tyler's brother Cornell; Edward Walker; and Willie Ware.

John Miles was accused of helping the Tyler brothers hide after the shooting. They surrendered to authorities more than two weeks after the shooting.

Tremaine Tyler is accused of being the first to shoot at the two carriers, but was not among those who chased them down the road. Cornell Tyler is facing a second trial. His first trial late last year ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked on a verdict.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.