Insanity defense mulled

Published 10:00 am Friday, March 30, 2012

COURTLAND—The attorney of a Franklin man accused of murdering his estranged wife was granted more time to explore using a form of an insanity defense at trial.

The jury trial for Charles Steinert 38, was rescheduled from Monday to Sept. 24 to allow Steinert’s attorney Greg Matthews the chance to research the irresistible impulse defense, Judge Rodham T. Delk said during a hearing Thursday in Southampton County Circuit Court.

The judge gave Matthews until April 5 to file a brief on the defense tactic. A pretrial conference will be held on May 22 at 9:30 a.m.

“I’ve been doing some research and I’ve started a little draft,” Matthews said.

Matthews would not comment further on the defense tactic.

Steinert was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Tammy Jo Steinert, 37, at her home at 200 Southampton Road in Franklin.

Virginia State Police said Steinert arrived at his wife’s home with a revolver. Her uncle Joseph Michael Wise of Courtland confronted him and Steinert allegedly shot Wise in the abdomen. He survived.

Detectives believe Steinert entered the home and chased two teenage girls and his wife into a bedroom. He released the girls unharmed after a four-hour standoff that ended with Steinert’s surrender. His wife was found dead in the home from a gunshot wound.

This is the third time the trial has been scheduled and moved. It was originally moved from June 14 of last year to November due to an apparent conflict of interest for Steinert’s former attorney.