The criminal trial for a Clendenin man accused of beating a 77-year-old woman to death during an alleged crime spree on Charleston’s West Side has been delayed until next year.
The Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office said the state will conduct its own criminal responsibility evaluation on Joshua Andrew Drennen, 28, who police say killed Barbara Steele in her Georgia Street home on Feb. 11.
An outside evaluation found Drennen was not criminally responsible for the killing and crime spree, and now the state will perform its own criminal responsibility evaluation, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Drennen’s criminal trial was continued until March 1, 2021.
An outside evaluation found Drennen competent to stand trial, but a criminal responsibility evaluation must also be conducted before the trial begins. Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey, presiding over the case, granted a motion by the state on Tuesday for a second criminal responsibility evaluation.
Drennen is facing charges of murder, petit larceny, first-degree robbery, malicious wounding, assault during the commission of a felony, possession of a stolen vehicle, attempted first-degree robbery and malicious assault of a law enforcement officer.
Drennen faces life in prison if convicted of murdering Steele in the first degree.
All the charges stem from an alleged crime spree beginning the morning of Feb. 11, when police received a call about a man beating on vehicles on Georgia Street on the city’s West Side.
That call was followed by another 911 call. Drennen carjacked a woman in front of the Walgreens at West Washington Street and Edgewood Drive, police said, before exiting the vehicle and attempting to steal another car in front of the Exxon/One Stop gas station at Lee Street West and Tennessee Avenue.
The driver of the second vehicle pulled a gun on Drennen, police said, which sent Drennen running toward Bigley Avenue.
Charleston Police Officer Terrence “Austin” Casto confronted Drennen in front of the Go-Mart station on Bigley Avenue, but police said as soon as Casto exited his vehicle, Drennen struck him multiple times in the head with an antique flat iron.
While lying on the pavement, Casto fired his gun, striking Drennen twice. Both men were taken to an area hospital, and Casto was released shortly after. Drennen recovered and was arraigned nine days after the event.