Dowdel Ruled Competent to Stand Trial

A man facing a murder charge for his role in the death of a Cadiz man at Sally Buffalo Park is competent to stand trial.

Matthew M. Dowdel, 24, of Hopedale, appeared in Harrison County Court on Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing. Dowdel, along with Eve Kelley, 33, of Wintersville, is accused in the murder of Joseph Strother, a 45-year-old Cadiz man who was found dead at Sally Buffalo Park on March 28.

Both suspects are charged with murder, felonious assault, complicity to commit murder and complicity to commit felonious assault.

At Dowdel’s arraignment, defense attorneys requested a mental evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial. His evaluation was originally conducted at the District Nine Forensic Diagnostic Center in Byesville. However, reports indicate Dowdel was unwilling to cooperate and the evaluation could not be completed.

Dowdel was ordered to undergo a second evaluation, which was conducted at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare in Columbus. Documentation of this evaluation was received by the the court July 16.

Presiding Judge Shawn Hervey said based on that evaluation, Dowdel is capable of understanding the court proceedings and why he is being charged, and thus competent of standing trial.

Hervey said Dowdel’s attorneys have received all of the state’s findings regarding evidence, but there is still some DNA evidence being processed by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. It is estimated that 30 days should be sufficient to finish analyzing the DNA.

A discovery deadline was set for Aug. 29. The state has until that date to provide discovery of material to the defendant. A final pre-trial and/or motion hearing was set for 9:15 a.m. Oct. 28. Dowdel’s jury trial is scheduled to being at 9 a.n. Nov. 20.

After the hearing, Dowdel was remanded to the Harrison County Sheriff’s custody, for transportation back to the Jefferson County Jail. He will remain there on a previously set cash bond of $5 million.

Kelley, meanwhile, is being held at the Jefferson County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond. Her next court appearance will be at a pre-trial hearing on Sept. 22. Unless she makes any changes to her previously entered plea of not guilty, the trial will begin Oct. 14.