Suspect in Tuesday’s police standoff could qualify for veterans court

The suspect, later identified as 59-year-old Roy Fotheringham, being escorted by police, St. George, Utah, Dec. 2, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News.

ST. GEORGE – A St. George man involved in a 10-hour standoff with police Tuesday – and later identified as a military veteran who may be struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder – made his first appearance in court via a video feed Thursday. If the suspect is found to be suffering from PTSD, he may be a candidate for the newly instituted veterans court, which has been established to help veterans with legal issues.

Guy Roy Fotheringham, 59, appeared in 5th District Court via video from the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility Thursday afternoon for an initial appearance and to have charges read to him relating to Tuesday’s incident. During the hearing, it was determined Fotheringham qualified for a public defender, and Judge John Walton was assigned Michael Lastowski to be his defense attorney.

Fotheringham faces a charge of second-degree felony criminal mischief; three third-degree felonies for aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, and discharge of a firearm; and a class-A misdemeanor for criminal trespassing. Walton set Fotheringham’s bail at $25,000.

SWAT team posted at the scene, St. George, Utah, Dec. 2, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News.
SWAT team posted at the scene, St. George, Utah, Dec. 2, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News.

The charges stem from incidents that took place shortly after midnight Tuesday and dragged on to about 11:20 a.m. According to a probable cause statement filed in support of Fotheringham’s arrest, Fotheringham had been in an argument with his wife and allegedly threatened to kill her and her pets. The woman was able to contact police and retreat from the trailer the two lived in while Fotheringham’s back was turned. She told police Fotheringham was ill and hadn’t been taking his medication, which was causing emotional stress.

Earlier the previous evening, Fotheringham allegedly went to a neighbor’s home “and confronted him in an agitated manner,” according to the probable cause statement. He is alleged to have thrown the neighbor’s door open, causing damage to an outdoor cable box. Fotheringham then entered the residence without invitation and didn’t immediately leave when asked repeatedly by the neighbor, though he eventually did leave and return to his trailer.

Fotheringham proceeded to fire off several rounds from a firearm inside his trailer, which led to police being called in. Officers set up a perimeter around the trailer and called in SWAT and negotiators. Fotheringham stayed inside for the next 10 hours, finally surrendering after police fired powdered pepper spray into the trailer.

Bruce Solomon, a readjustment counselor with the St. George Vet Center, was on scene when Fotheringham was taken into custody. He was called in by police once they learned the suspect was a veteran with potential PTSD issues.

Solomon was able to speak briefly with Fotheringham but has yet to evaluate him for possible PTSD as of Thursday evening. He said he is currently waiting to meet with Fotheringham’s lawyer to make the proper arrangements.

Fotheringham is a veteran of the United States Navy and Air Force, Solomon said, adding that Veterans Affairs is aware of the man’s case.

“It’s not his first rodeo with the VA,” Solomon said.

Once matters are cleared with the defense, Solomon said, he will evaluate Fotheringham to see if he fits the needed criteria to qualify for the Veterans Judicial Initiative, or veterans court.

The key is if he has had a traumatic experience” while in military service, Solomon said.

Part of the evaluation will involve questions relating to the nature of Fotheringham’s military service and where he may have been deployed.

Solomon said he is hoping something comes out during the evaluation that points to potential PTSD; if not, veterans court may not be an option.

“It’s a pretty stiff process,” Solomon said.

While combat veterans may be the ones primarily thought of when it comes to sufferering PTSD, Solomon said it could be any kind of traumatic experience that occurs at any point during military service.

“It’s like a sliver that goes in and hurts like hell,” he said, adding that it’s a sliver that festers with infection the longer it’s left under the skin untreated. “That’s exactly what PTSD is like.”

By no means is the veterans court meant to be a “get of jail free card,” Solomon added.

Pulling that sliver out may not be wholly possible either, he said, but it can be treated.

The best I can do is help them manage it,” Solomon said.

If Fotheringham qualifies for the veterans court, charges associated with the standoff could be put on hold and eventually even expunged upon successful completion of a court-mandated treatment program.

“The structure is really tight and the rules are strict. It’s a one-strike deal — one strike gets you the clinical visits doubled for the rest of the program,” Solomon said in a previous interview with St. George News.

“Three times of being late gets you canned,” had added, which is to say the veteran who accesses the new veterans court system may be reassigned to the standard judicial process.

Fotheringham’s next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 2:30 p.m.

St. George News reporter Aspen Stoddard contributed to this story.

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  • BACON BITS December 6, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Well heck let’s all go out and commit crimes and then blame it all on PTSD and then we can start to phase out the insanity plea and mental defect

  • Home Trooper December 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

    PTSD really for thousands of year men have fought for life, family, freedom, liberty, anf the right to worship their God. Thousands died in one day battles tens of thousands died in weekly battles (20,000 in France alone)The men returned home lived normal lives, some held war deep inside but continued to live life to the fullest. No PTSD in that generation. We now have wars that last 15 years. 6,000 die in two separate wars that last a decade with numorous amputations. Many with concussions even multiple in some instances. We have 30,000 killed yearly by drunk drivers. 7,000 yearly on mexican boader by drug cartel, 20,000 by inter city gang violence. And now these new generation have PTSD. Not only that our early milatary was drafted into the armed service. Now they volunteer so they can make a good living, get free dollars for education, and if lucky can make a claim for disability, on an injury that really can’t be tested for (investigate the murderess Jodi Arryas ) ya we can blame it on conclusions, even though the average NFL player will have multiple concusion yearly thru out his career. Before you complain about me not joining the milatary, i have just one question the soldiers are brave to go hang out for two years with their buddies then go out on patrol once every month, come back to base hang out play video games, drink beer if they choose, get a message if they choose. Or is the brave man the one that stays home makes sure the wives and Family are taken care of at home, struggles daily at work in a horrible economy that you never no if the pay check will bounce, ( not a government guaranteed check ) continue supporting and teaching the children of the solider and if need be comforting their wives mentally of course. All struggle in life life is hard don’t make excuses. PTSD hell we all have PTSD. Deal with it or head to the gated community that treats you as good as camp Raqucmanija.

    • Floyd Kitchen December 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Your not even worth the answer but I will say one thing. Until you have experienced what men and woman go through during war time you probably need to read more history all the way back to the Civil War at lease. Your so out of touch that really your a joke. Of course you are talking about my Brother and Sisters that weathered the storms so you can write such stupid comments. I am sorry you have such a hard time with this issue. Maybe you need to leave it alone until you know what you are talking about. Keep working hard so my checks will be healthy for keeping your liberty in tact. I used my real name because I am proud to have defended my Country. You use a fake name because your afraid to come clean. Get a life Sir!

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