New Canaan man accused of killing wife will likely never stand trial

For the third time, 79-year-old Albert Kokoth was found not competent to stand trial. During a remote court hearing, a state expert said there’s no real chance he’ll ever be since he’s been diagnosed with a “progressive and irreversible” brain disease.

Marissa Alter

Apr 11, 2023, 10:50 PM

Updated 373 days ago

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A New Canaan man accused of shooting his wife to death will likely never be tried for her murder, his attorney said.
On Tuesday, for the third time, 79-year-old Albert Kokoth was found not competent to stand trial. During a remote court hearing, a state expert said there’s no real chance he’ll ever be since he’s been diagnosed with a “progressive and irreversible” brain disease.
Edward Gallagher, a competency monitor at Whiting Forensic Hospital in Middletown, testified about Kokoth’s most recent competency evaluation.
“The treatment team's opinion is that Mr. Kokoth was unable to display an ability to understand the proceedings against him nor, in our opinion, is he able to effectively assist in his own defense,” Gallagher said.
He went on to tell the court that isn't expected to change because Kokoth has Huntington's disease, a rare condition that causes nerve cells in the brain to break down.
Kokoth has been in custody for almost two years, ever since May 6, 2021, when Margaret Kokoth, 75, was shot to death inside the couple's home on Down River Road in New Canaan. Police said Kokoth called his daughter first, then 911, telling both he was showing his wife his shotgun when it went off by mistake.

But the investigation found otherwise. Court documents showed Kokoth's wife died from two separate gunshots, one to her head and one to her body. A neighbor reported hearing the shots 15 minutes apart.

Kokoth's arrest warrant also revealed one of his sons-in-law told police Kokoth's daughter was concerned her dad had dementia, even telling her husband, "If they don't do something they're gonna find her mother/Margaret shot dead."
The warrant also included a report from an officer on scene who heard Kokoth utter to one of his daughters, "Now they have something exciting to post in the Newcanaanite." Another officer overheard Kokoth tell her, "This is some Mother's Day gift," according to the warrant.
Kokoth’s attorney, Mark Sherman, previously said his client would move forward with an insanity plea. Sherman pointed to an ongoing mental health condition as the reason for the tragedy.
During the hearing Tuesday afternoon, Gallagher said Kokoth's symptoms include dementia and episodes of paranoia and agitation.

“It is the hospital's opinion that he currently requires a hospital level of care and are recommending that he be returned to us for the purposes of applying to probate court for civil commitment,” Gallagher told the court.
The hearing concluded with Judge Kevin Randolph determining Kokoth is not competent to stand trial, and there is no substantial probability he can be restored to competency. Randolph transferred Kokoth to the custody of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, so he remains at Whiting. Randolph also ordered periodic evaluations of Kokoth. He did not dismiss the case, saying he wants to see what happens with Kokoth's application to be committed.
Sherman said that will play out in probate court over the next couple months.


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