The lawyer for William Ronald Webb, the former Las Vegas police officer charged with conspiring to kill attorney Nancy Quon, says he will ask a district judge to determine whether his client is competent to stand trial.
"We want his competency examined," attorney John Momot said this week. "I have had several conversations with my client, and it's my feeling that this is the appropriate course of action."
The move is expected to delay the criminal case against Webb in Henderson Justice Court, but it is not stopping prosecutors from taking the case to a grand jury. Prosecutors have told Momot in writing that Webb is a target of the grand jury.
But prosecutors probably will not seek to indict Webb until the competency issue is resolved. Prosecutors often seek an indictment in a case like this to move it directly to District Court for trial without having to put on evidence at a public preliminary hearing.
Questions about Webb's mental health come as Quon for the first time Tuesday broke her silence in the case. She told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the police investigation of Webb, her boyfriend of six years, has put her in a "difficult situation" but that she is "OK" thanks to an "amazing support group."
The investigation of Webb became public with his Nov. 9 arrest at the Green Valley Ranch Resort. Las Vegas police undercover officers alleged that he threatened a shootout before he was taken into custody, and Momot said Webb was drinking heavily that night. Webb told a police witness that the drugs he was buying were for Quon's suicide, authorities have said.
Detectives suspect that Webb and Quon might have plotted her demise because of an FBI investigation into allegations of fraud within homeowners associations around the valley. Police describe Quon's indictment in the federal case as "imminent."
Webb, 42, retired from the Metropolitan Police Department in 2008 after more than 17 years on the job. He is charged in a three-count criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit murder, trafficking in a controlled substance and conspiracy to violate the controlled substances act. He is at the Clark County Detention Center on $400,000 bail.
Momot plans to raise the competency issue with Chief Henderson Justice of the Peace Rodney Burr on Tuesday when Webb's preliminary hearing is to take place. A preliminary hearing is conducted to determine whether to bind over a defendant for trial.
Momot said he intends to ask Burr to put off the hearing until District Judge Jackie Glass, who oversees all competency matters, issues a ruling on whether Webb is competent to stand trial. Court-appointed psychiatrists would examine Webb and report back to Glass before she makes her decision .
If Glass finds Webb competent to stand trial, the case would be referred back to Burr for the preliminary hearing. Prosecutors then could pursue Webb's indictment.
The complaint alleges Webb conspired with an "unnamed co-conspirator" to obtain 51.4 grams of the club drug gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, GHB, to give to Quon. The unnamed co-conspirator is a friend of Webb and a felon now cooperating with police. He told detectives the couple talked openly about their plan and wanted to arrange Quon's death so that Webb could collect life insurance money for her children.
Quon, 50, has not been charged. She told police that she never planned suicide, but officers ordered her taken by ambulance from Green Valley Ranch for psychiatric evaluation.
Her lawyer, Tom Pitaro, said Tuesday that the psychiatrist who examined Quon at Seven Hills Behavioral Institute in Henderson concluded that she was not suicidal and that her transportation to the facility was a "manipulation."
Pitaro would not let Quon answer questions about the investigation of Webb or her own mental health. He said he has asked Quon to stay away from Webb until the criminal case is resolved.
"Obviously, this is a difficult situation," Quon said. "This is all very surprising and distressing."
Quon said the investigation has added to stress from a colon cancer scare she has been dealing with since April and from a near-fatal Oct. 28 fire at her home. Webb's brother found her unconscious in the burning house and rescued her, police reported.
"I think that most people who come through a fire take time to get through it," she said. "I wish that was all I had to deal with right now."
Quon said that before the fire, her family, including her two daughters, ages 29 and 25, were planning Thanksgiving dinner at her home. The holiday celebration has now been moved to her brother's house in Reno, she said.
Contact Jeff German at jgerman@review journal.com or 702-380-8135 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.