Norfolk judge orders competency evaluation for 19-year-old accused of fatally shooting 3 women, injuring 2 others

Crime Tracker

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A judge has ordered a competency evaluation for a 19-year-old man accused of shooting five women, three fatally, in the Young Terrace neighborhood on Nov. 3.

Ziontay Palmer appeared in Norfolk General District Court Wednesday afternoon via video from jail. The hearing lasted just a few minutes.

Palmer’s attorney, public defender Armon Pollack filed a motion requesting a mental evaluation because he has concerns Palmer might not fully understand the charges against him, and may not be able to assist in his own defense.

The judge granted the motion for a mental evaluation. The judge also set a court date of Dec. 1 to find out what that evaluation shows.

The judge told Palmer the court wants to make sure he is competent to understand the charges against him, which includes three charges of second-degree murder.

This is separate from a sanity evaluation determining Palmer’s mental state at the time of the crimes. A request for that evaluation has not been made. An insanity defense is an affirmative defense whereby the defendant acknowledges having engaged in the offense but argues lack of responsibility due to mental disease or defect.

The shooting happened around 6 p.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of Whitaker Lane.

Police believe five women were shot and three of them died. Those who were killed were identified as 42-year-old Detra “Dee” Brown, of Suffolk, 45-year-old Nicole Lovewine, of Norfolk, and 44-year-old Sara E. Costine, of Lithonia, Georgia.

Police said Palmer allegedly first shot a 19-year-old woman, with whom he had been in a relationship, in the shoulder.

An eyewitness said the woman ran into her mother’s apartment. Her mother, Lovewine, was shot next. Then Palmer allegedly shot Lovewine’s longtime friend 42-year-old Brown.

Hearing all the gunfire, 44-year-old Costine left the safety of her next-door apartment to help the other two women. She was also shot and killed.

Palmer remains in jail without bond.

Stay with WAVY online and on-air for updates on this story.

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