Fallon Teen in Court

The attorney for the Fallon teenager charged with murdering her stepmother last week wants the girl's mental state evaluated. Joanna Plants made a brief appearance in Churchill County district court today. She could be under examination at the Lake's Crossing center for the mentally disordered offender for the next few weeks.

Her attorney wants to establish whether or not she is mentally capable of aiding in her defense. That's a key point at this early point in the case.

Joanna Plants appeared in Churchill County District Court today: thin, frail, both younger than her 17 years and yet aged by the years of methamphetamine use she has admitted. Plants is facing Open Murder charges for shooting her stepmother, Ginger Plants last Monday at the family home just south of Fallon. Today her court appointed attorney, Paul Drakulich, asked Judge Leon Aberasturri to order a psychiatric examination of his client.

It may take a few weeks to get that answer. In the meantime we're learning more about the events leading up to and directly following the shooting. Significantly, we learning Plants may have considered suicide after shooting her stepmother. Investigators believe Ginger Plants was shot following an argument at the family home, an argument over the care of the family's animals, an argument that may have ended with her father telling Joanna Plants he'd had it with her. A short time later she asked her next door neighbor Tiffany Adsit for a ride to the Country Church where her father has been pastor. The neighbor saw she was upset and had a gun. She told investigators the teenager "had indicated harming herself with the weapon" Adsit left the girl at the church but apparently talked her into leaving the .380 calibre handgun with her.

Just what her state of mind was at the time of the shooting may become an issue as this case moves toward trial. However, this psychiatric examination will have a more narrow, immediate focus: whether she is capable of participating in her defense. It's worth noting, however, that Nevada law has a very difficult standard to meet when it comes to a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Another one of the fascinating details emerging is how the shooting was reported. At some point in that trip to the church, Tiffany Adsit had a phone conversation with a friend who was being held on unrelated charges in the county jail. According to court documents she told him Joanna had shot someone, and it was the inmate who summoned a detention deputy and told him what he'd just heard. The deputy notified dispatch and officers were sent to the home where they discovered Ginger Plants' body and learned where Joanna Plants had been left. It all happened very quickly, but it's not often that the first report of a serious crime comes from someone behind bars.