Florida man accused of shooting at York County relative not competent to stand trial

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
York County Judicial Center

A Florida man accused of firing a gun at a relative in York County nearly two years ago has been ruled incompetent to stand trial.

Donald Melvin Laughman, 78, of Zephyrhills, has been held in York County Prison since July 2019, according to court records, and remained there as of Tuesday.

It's expected he will now be transferred to a state mental hospital. That's generally what happens to people ruled incompetent to stand trial in Pennsylvania when they are charged with serious felony offenses.

Laughman remains charged with the felonies of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm, as well as with misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment.

On Tuesday, presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness ruled Laughman incompetent to stand trial, according to court records.

The ruling was in response to a psychiatric competency evaluation that was performed at the request of Laughman's defense attorney, public defender Jim Rader.

Rader could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The background: West Manheim Township Police said Laughman fired three times at  Scott Sanders in the first block of Hillcrest Drive in the township about 7 p.m. July 21, 2019.

Donald Laughman

Laughman was a disgruntled family member of Sanders', according to police, who said the two were fighting about a dead relative's will.

Laughman pulled into Sanders' driveway and the two talked for several minutes before Laughman pulled a gun and fired in Sanders' direction, court documents state.

Sanders, who told officers he believed Laughman's first shot misfired, ran for cover behind a Jeep Cherokee in the driveway, police said.

The Jeep was hit twice by bullets, court documents state, after which Laughman fled the scene.

There was a woman standing in the area with Sanders when Laughman was shooting his gun, which is why police filed counts of reckless endangerment, court documents indicate.

Laughman's criminal history includes a felony, according to police. In Pennsylvania, felons are prohibited from owning or even handling firearms.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.