Prosecution: Lytle Isn’t Mentally Ill, Just Difficult

SPOKANE — A Spokane County judge ruled that Jonathan Lytle is competent to stand trial.

The man is charged with homicide by abuse in the death of his 4 year old daughter, Summer Phelps. His wife, Adriana Lytle is also charged with her murder.

Lytle was escorted into court with extra security Monday morning as he has been a handful for both the jail’s staff and his own attorneys. Then before proceedings got underway, Lytle’s motion to have both the paperwork in support of his mental health problems and the courtroom sealed was denied.

Dr. Randall Strandquist, a clinical psychologist from Eastern State Hospital, was the first to testify on behalf of the prosecution Monday and said that Lytle is competent to stand trial.

Strandquist noted that Lytle has antisocial personality disorder and is narcissistic, but has no disease or defect that will keep him from being able to understand proceedings and assist in his defense. Strandquist summed up his testimony Monday by saying he doesn’t believe Lytle is mentally ill, just difficult.

“It’s my opinion that he’s choosing to be difficult in this case and  basically making a statement  that you can try me but I’m not going to participate, but it’s his choice,” Dr. Strandquist said.

Dr. Mark Mays, the clinical psychologist hired by the defense to testify in the case, took the stand later in the day and said he had a hard time reaching Lytle.

“He was suspicious, almost paranoid, distracted, confused, some of the things he talked about were nonsensical,” Dr. Mays said.

The defense believes Lytle lacks the cognitive skills he needs to understand the proceedings.

In court Lytle paid little attention to the proceedings, spending his day drawing in a note pad while his attorneys argued that Lytle is deluded to the extent they cannot discuss legal strategies with him and that he blames the death of his daughter on someone else.

“It was [his] belief that his daughter had died not as a result of anything that he or Adriana had done but as a result of the police’s behavior or the behavior on the part of the physicians at the hospital where he had brought his daughter to be cared for,” Dr. Mays said.

Lytle and his wife Adriana are both charged with homicide by abuse in connection with the death of his daughter, four-year-old Summer Phelps, in early 2007. Lytle claims he may have been too mentally ill to stop the beatings.  

Adriana has already pleaded guilty to the charge and faces a minimum 20-year prison sentence. She will be sentenced after Lytle’s trial in October.