An Edgemont woman charged with eluding police while allegedly driving on the wrong side of Interstate 90 needs to undergo mental health treatment before her criminal case can proceed.
Following a hearing Oct. 24, a judge found that the defendant, 52-year-old Marguerite Martin, is suffering from a mental disease or developmental disability, according to Pennington County court records.
In her current state, Martin is “unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceeding against her, or to assist properly in her defense,” 7th Circuit Judge Robert Mandel wrote in his findings.
Mandel ordered her treated at the South Dakota Human Services Center, a hospital in Yankton, until she is deemed “competent to stand trial.”
Martin is charged with aggravated eluding, a felony that carries a two-year prison sentence, as well as driving on the wrong side of the road, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in county jail.
According to police, Martin was seen driving on the wrong side of I-90, near New Underwood, in the early morning hours of Jan. 20. Various agencies were reportedly involved in trying to stop her GMC Suburban, and the chase ended only when a Pennington County sheriff’s deputy used a special pursuit tactic that caused Martin’s vehicle to spin to a stop in the Box Elder area.
Notable in the deputy’s incident report was his observation that Martin might have been suffering from a medical issue. Field tests apparently showed she wasn’t under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Marguerite was acting very strangely, and was speaking in what sounded like a made-up language,” the report states. “Marguerite would switch from high tones to low tones, ask questions in one voice, then answer the questions she had just asked in another voice.”
She had been driving 20-80 mph, police said, and traveled about 15 miles in the wrong direction. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
Martin had been accompanied in the vehicle by a dog, which her defense attorney Jeff Fransen said was her service animal.
Martin has been released from county jail while waiting to be admitted at the Human Services Center. The hospital has been ordered to inform the court if Martin becomes competent to stand trial within four months to a year of treatment.