Judge gives state 10 days to find place for 97-year-old murder suspect

Agency for Persons with Disabilities still has no place for Amanda Stevenson

ST. AUGUSTINE Fla. - As 97-year-old Amanda Stevenson continues to wait in the St. Johns County jail the judge who ordered the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities to find her a place to stay has given the state 10 more days to come up with a plan.

The agency's appeal of Judge Michael Traynor's order was denied two months ago. Back in court Wednesday, officials still had not found a place to house this murder defendant who was ruled not competent to stand trial in the shooting death of her nephew, 53-year-old John Rice.

The agency says it doesn't have the capabilities to deal with her dementia and other medical issues. The agency says its mission is to treat those with mental retardation or autism, and none of the five psychologists who examined Stevenson found she has those illnesses.

"Placing Ms. Stevenson in any one of our facilities, from an agency's perspective would result in potential fines, loss of licensure for those facilities, or loss of funding through the Medicaid waiver because she doesn't qualify administratively for any of those services or functions," said Julie Waldman, who was representing the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Because of her age and mental state, the court determine she's not suitable to remain in the jail cell where she has been since her September 2011 arrest.

Stevenson's attorney says his client's suggestion proves that she is out of touch with reality: She wants to live with her a 317-year-old uncle she claims is living in Barbados.

"The legislature failed to define the medical term dementia," said Assistant Public Defender Ray Warren. "Without a legal definition for that term, the question is: Which agency will care for her?"

The judge was clearly displeased that two more months have passed and Stevenson continued to sit in jail.

"I have to believe there are places in this state that care for people in that condition, whether they be privately funded or publicly funded," Traynor said before recessing the hearing. "I'll deal with that after I receive your report."

Traynor said if it's a group home, assisted living facility or something else, he wants to make sure whatever facility is chosen to house Stevenson is secure.

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