Despite feigned attempts of mental instability, Earl Oswalt Jr. would be competent to participate in his defense according to a court-ordered evaluation provided to Payne County District Court by a psychologist from the Oklahoma Forensic Center.
Oswalt has been accused of killing Chelsey Chaffin in June, and disposing of her body in the Cimarron River. Her body has never been recovered, and Oswalt has been charged with second-degree murder.
The application for competency was ordered in August by District Court Judge Katherine Thomas. Oswalt was interviewed Oct. 29 by Dr. Peter Rausch.
In his report, Rausch wrote that while detained Oswalt was not prescribed psychotropic medication and had not exhibited problematic behavior at the county jail. He wrote that Oswalt conveyed a clear understanding and purpose of the forensic evaluation.
“Mr. Oswalt was alert and attentive. He readily engaged in conversation. His speech was of an average rate and volume. His expressed thoughts were coherent, logical and goal directed,” Rausch wrote. “He reported feeling depressed, but related this to his current legal situation. He indicated that he has difficulty sleeping. His affect (immediate expressed emotion) was constricted and at times tearful but congruent to his expressed thoughts. He related a history of having experienced auditory hallucinations (perceptual disturbances). He related that the auditory hallucinations involve his hearing, “cats, roosters and a phone ringing.” He did not exhibit any overt signs that suggested he was experience hallucinations during the course of the evaluation. His memory appeared to be intact and his estimated to be of low-average intelligence.”
Rausch wrote that Oswalt told him he had been in and out of the foster system, that he and his sister had been neglected and abused and that one day he came home from school to an empty house and found that his mother had apparently moved. He told Rausch that he had been diagnosed in prison with “paranoid schizophrenia, ADHD, agoraphobia, bipolar disorder, PTSD and multiple personality disorder and had been treated with psychotropic medications in prison but could not recall the names of the drugs.
The reason Rausch believed Oswalt was faking his mental illness was related to the administration of a Miller Forensic Assessment of Systems. According to Rausch it’s designed to aid in the assessment of whether someone is feigning or over-exaggerating psychotic symptoms.
“Mr. Oswalt received a score of 19 which is well above the cut score of 6 and is suggestive that he was feigning,” Rausch wrote.
In conclusion Rausch wrote, “In regards to his competency, this examiner is unaware of any issue, psychiatric or cognitive, that would impede his ability to appreciate the nature of his charges, understand his proceeding and communicate effectively with counsel.”
The court has not yet ruled on Oswalt’s competency. Oswalt is due back in court Dec. 2.