Defense asks for mental evaluation

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By Tom Wilmoth

A mental evaluation will determine whether a man accused of holding a Bedford County woman hostage for more than 36 hours and assaulting her will be competent to stand trial on the charges.

George Leroy Keaton Jr., 30, of Vinton, is charged with one count of malicious wounding, rape and abduction with the intent to defile and three counts of forcible sodomy in connection with the case. The evaluation was ordered during a hearing in Bedford County General District Court Monday.

Keaton is accused of allegedly abducting the woman, whom he knew only casually, on Dec. 26 of last year and holding her prisoner at his residence. According to Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Krantz he also sexually assaulted her while she was held captive over a 36 to 48 hour period.

The woman was able to gain her freedom, by convincing Keaton to allow her to use a car, Krantz said Monday, but that freedom was short-lived. Allegedly Keaton ran after her and the car ran through a fence.

Krantz said Monday that Keaton then called his sister who came to the house. The victim told her what had happened and then Keaton allegedly stabbed the victim. He then fled into the house which led to a stand-off with members of the Bedford County Sheriff's Tactical Response Team. The woman was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery.

The initial warrant for his arrest was for the stabbing and, after interviewing the victim, the additional charges were filed, Krantz said. Keaton is currently being held without bond.

The mental evaluation that was ordered Monday will determine whether Keaton is competent to stand trial and whether he was sane at the time of the alleged offenses.

A preliminary hearing has been set for April 7 in the case.

According to Krantz, the victim did not have a relationship with Keaton, though she knew his sister.

During Monday's hearing, Krantz said he plans to replace the malicious wounding charge with aggravated malicious wounding.