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Competency test sought for defendant in brutal Fayette slaying

| Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The public defender for one of the men accused in a brutal Fayette County homicide wants a judge to order a competency exam for his client.

In a motion, Jeffrey Whiteko requested a court order allowing an expert from Torrance State Hospital in Derry Township to evaluate Paul Jerome Bannasch at the county jail in Uniontown.

Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty against Bannasch and Craig Rugg, both 24, in the June 22 slaying of Margaret “Peggy Sue” Kriek, 52.

Witnesses saw the three drinking at Sidewinders bar in Connellsville shortly before they were seen near the Amtrak station in the city, according to a criminal complaint.

Police said the suspects beat Kriek near the station and dumped her body in the nearby Youghiogheny River, where it was discovered by Boy Scouts on June 22.

An autopsy report said Kriek died of strangulation before her body was placed in the river.

She had blunt-force trauma injuries to her head and body, a rib fracture, a broken neck and lacerations and abrasions to her heels, legs, torso and arms, according to police.

In the motion seeking the exam, Whiteko said the request is based partially on his client's conduct during interviews. The motion does not describe the behavior.

Rugg's court-appointed attorney has not yet filed any pretrial motions, in part because Rugg has not been formally arraigned. His arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 15 before Judge Nancy Vernon.

Both men are being held in the Fayette County Prison without bond.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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