HAMMOND — A federal judge has determined Monique Bowling is competent to stand trial, siding with a doctor's earlier testimony the Merrillville woman appeared to be "malingering" — or faking — illness.
Meanwhile, her defense attorney has filed a motion seeking to delay a scheduled Dec. 10 trial start date. She is accused of stealing more than 1,000 tablet computers from the city of Gary.
"The Court finds that Defendant Monique Bowling is competent to stand trial and is not suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering her mentally incompetent to the extent that she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against her or to assist properly in her defense," court records show.
Bowling pleaded not guilty to federal theft charges in November 2016 on allegations she stole more than 1,000 Apple iPads while employed with the city of Gary's information technology department. Bowling also is accused of cashing the pension checks of a former roommate after he died in September 2010.
Bowling had been sent this summer to a federal medical center in Texas for an in-custody mental health examination. Defense attorney Jeffrey P. Schlesinger requested the evaluation of Bowling in January after informing the court his client had gone mute, refusing to speak with him or anyone else.
Schlesinger filed a motion Thursday, asking the Dec. 10 trial start date be continued. He said because of his inability to communicate with his client, he needs additional time to investigate potential defenses on her behalf.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Toi Houston and Gary Bell indicate they object to a continuance of the trial, Schlesinger's filing states.
Dr. Amor Correa, a forensic psychologist for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, previously testified via video in U.S. District Court that a battery of psychological tests showed Bowling was “very likely” malingering her muteness. She said the test results were supported by staff observations.
Correa said Bowling communicated through writing with staff members and doctors at the Texas facility. Bowling also attempted to activate a phone account at the facility and convinced another patient she befriended to send detailed emails to Bowling's family members.
Correa said staff members came to the conclusion Bowling could communicate when it was in her self-interest, such as informing a doctor of her prescriptions, and her writing did not seem hindered at all.
Correa said Bowling and her husband also told staff members at a federal medical facility in Chicago she became mute after a stroke. The doctor reviewed medical records for Bowling from Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus and found there was no medical basis for her silence.
Bowling has also previously been identified in court records as Monique Bowling-Boyd, or Monique Boyd.