Roy waives conflict for new defense attorney

James Neiss/staff photographer Lockport, NY - Niagara County Sheriff Deputies escort Gregory Roy to County Court on Friday. The judge ordered Roy to appear after he initially refused to do so.

A town of Porter man will stand trial for the murder of his stepfather after refusing a plea deal from prosecutors on Wednesday.

Gregory Roy, who has twice been found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, is now slated to face a jury in November. State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. set jury selection to start on Nov. 8.

Roy will be back in court in late September for a final pre-trial hearing.

In March he had been ordered back to a state psychiatric center in Rochester, just 18 months after being found competent to face murder charges in the slaying of his stepfather, Rudy Ray Rockett Sr. He was recently, again, found competent to face the charges,

A succession of Niagara County Court judges have found that recurring mental health issues have left Roy, at various times, unable to assist in his defense.

In May 2019, then Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon found Roy not competent to stand trial. The judge ordered him committed to the Rochester Psychiatric Center for up to one year.

But after four months of treatment and a return to the use of medications to treat his mental conditions, the two psychologists who had found him unfit to proceed to trial, reversed their opinions.

He was returned to Niagara County in October 2019 and his case moved through various pre-trial proceedings. Prosecutors were seeking a trial date earlier this year as the state’s courts begin to re-open after a COVID-related shutdown.

However, in March, the experts found that Roy’s mental condition had deteriorated over the intervening 18 months and asked that he be returned to the Rochester facility for treatment.

Roy, 32, is charged in a grand jury indictment with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the death of Rocket Sr. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Rockett Sr., 64, who worked as an engineer, was supposed to be returning to his California home in Redondo Beach on the night of April 29, 2018 when he disappeared. His wife reported him missing when it was discovered that he had failed to board his flight to Los Angeles after leaving to go to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport with his stepson, Roy.

Later that evening, two Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies who had responded to Rocket Sr.’s summer home on Lake Road in the Town of Porter encountered Roy as he pulled into the driveway of the home. Roy lived at the home with his mother and stepfather.

As Roy stepped from the car, the deputies made a startling discovery. On the passenger side door of the 2006 gray Saab, which belonged to Roy’s mother, one of the deputies noticed blood.

A later search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a handgun in the glove box. A search for Rocket Sr. began the next day on April 30. That same day, sheriff’s deputies and investigators returned to arrest Roy on a charge of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon for the gun they had found.

Among multiple search warrant executions by sheriff’s investigators, the Gazette has learned that during one at the Lake Road home investigators seized a significant amount of physical evidence including clothing and electronics.

Another search warrant was executed on the 2006 Saab 93 yielding large amounts of blood splattered on the passenger side door of the car.

Prosecutors and investigators say they believe Rockett Sr. was killed in the car while he was being driven to the airport. The search for Rocket Sr. lasted almost three weeks and centered in the Southern Tier.

On May 19, 2018, Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s deputies and Erie County Sheriff’s Office K-9 deputies located Rockett Sr.’s body in a heavily forested area in East Otto.

Roy’s defense team says a psychologist at the Erie County Medical Center, where the accused killer was briefly hospitalized for refusing to take his anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medications, has concluded that Roy was off his medications for about three months before he allegedly killed his stepfather and may have been experiencing a schizophrenic episode at the time.

Roy’s refusal to take his medications reportedly worried his parents in the months before Rockett’s death.

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