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Betty J. Brown

Betty J. Brown

Photo courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

CROWN POINT — After several mental evaluations, a criminal court judge has determined a woman is competent to stand trial on allegations she caused another woman's death in a series of car crashes in Hobart.

A court-appointed doctor determined Betty J. Brown was mentally competent, Judge Diane Boswell said at a court hearing Friday. Another doctor reached the same conclusion in October, which contradicted an initial mental evaluation by a doctor who determined she was incompetent.

Boswell scheduled a May 21 trial. A pretrial conference is scheduled for April 20.

Brown, 65, of Merrillville, is charged with reckless homicide on allegations she caused the vehicle crash June 30, 2015, in Hobart that killed Kathern Stafford, 53, of Lake Station, court documents state.

Stafford's vehicle was struck by Brown's vehicle at the intersection of 61st Avenue and Colorado Street, the documents state. It was allegedly the second of three crashes caused that night by Brown.

Brown hit a red Lincoln Continental at 7:15 p.m. near the 4500 block of West 61st Avenue, documents state. She continued driving, striking Stafford's SUV and then skidding into a blue Subaru on 61st Avenue.

When Hobart police arrived at the scene, Brown's vehicle was partially on the curb and the engine was on fire, documents state. Brown was conscious, but reported pain and was transported to an area hospital.

Brown also is charged with failure to stop after an accident resulting in death and leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury, as well as several misdemeanor traffic offenses.


Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.