Suspect charged with murdering man with a baseball bat appears in court

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) -- The case of a Roanoke man accused of murdering someone with a baseball bat last year continues. There was another hearing for the Timothy Mwandi Church Friday. His trial was supposed to begin next week.

But his attorney told a judge Friday that he needs more time to look over an evaluation of Church's mental health.

Keeping his eyes down, Church said almost nothing during the five-minute proceeding Friday, in which his attorney, Dirk Padgett, asked for next week's trial start date to be pushed back.

He says Church has just completed a mental evaluation by doctors at UVA.

"Mr. Church is being examined by a neuropsychologist to determine the issue of insanity and his state of mind at the time of the offense," he said.

Padgett said he wants more time to look over the report. He claims his client is very mentally ill, saying Church has lingering effects from being tortured as a child in Kenya.

But he says for a defendant to be declared insane in Virginia is very rare.

"The standard is incredibly high," he said. "Not only must you have a significant mental impairment, you must also not know the difference between right and wrong."

Church already waived his right to a speedy trial in January of this year, which was nearly a year after the deadly attack at the Starlite Motel, which left one person dead and two others injured. The motel has been under new ownership for the last nine months.

Padgett said evidence shows Church was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

The Commonwealth Attorney's office did not comment on the case Friday.

Padgett said he will be ready for the new trial start date in September.

"I think Mr. Church has a significant defense," he said. "I think it should be a good trial."