Judge rules husband competent to stand trial in larceny case

The husband of a Ledyard woman who was recently convicted of stealing about $40,000 from a retiree has been found competent to stand trial for the same crime.

Joanne A. Skok, 62, and her husband, John R. Skok, 59, were charged in 2011 with stealing from Jacqueline Becker, whom they had befriended, after concocting an elaborate scheme to “help” her resolve a financial problem.

When Joanne Skok went on trial last month in New London Superior Court, prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla moved to join the two cases so the couple could be tried simultaneously. Defense attorney Michael A. Jewell argued against the motion, saying, in part, that John Skok had memory loss due to alcohol abuse, a car accident and a stroke.

Judge Arthur C. Hadden denied the motion to join the cases and ordered that the husband undergo a competency evaluation. In the meantime, a jury convicted Joanne Skok, who is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 9.

John Skok was evaluated by a clinical team at the state Office of Forensic Evaluations, which determined he is able to understand the court proceedings and to assist in his defense. The clinicians wrote in their report that during an interview, Skok “attempted to exaggerate his deficits and at times was deliberately evasive with his responses.”

During a court appearance Tuesday, the prosecution and defense lawyers stipulated to the clinical teams findings, meaning they will not challenge them, and Judge Susan B. Handy ruled Skok competent to stand trial. His case was added back to the list of those awaiting trial.

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