UPDATED: Facebook Murder-for-hire Suspect Will Receive Mental Health Evaluation
Meredith Lowell appeared today in U.S. District Court Cleveland and entered a not guilty plea
Updated at 5:02 p.m. Monday
The defense team for the Cleveland Heights woman charged with plotting to hire a hit man to kill a random person wearing fur entered a not guilty plea today in U.S. District Court.
Her attorneys, Walter Lucas and Paul Shipp, also requested that Meredith Lowell, 27, of Cleveland Heights, receive a competency evaluation to determine whether she can participate in court proceedings. It was granted, and she will receive a mental health examination.
"Given the evidence that the government has presented to us thus far, it seems clear that Ms. Lowell's alleged conduct could only be characterized as completely irrational. At the present time, we have serious concerns about Ms. Lowell's ability to fully understand everything that is happening in her case and to participate in her own defense," Lucas said in an e-mail. "Whether she is legally competent to stand trial needs to be carefully examined before the government is permitted to pursue its prosecution of this case."
Competency evaluations take 90 to 120 days, and the next court date will not be set until that's completed.
Lowell was denied bail at her previous court appearance Feb. 28, and she will remain in custody.
Judge Patricia Gaughan presided over the arraignment today.
The FBI arrested Lowell Feb. 21 and charged her with solicitation to commit murder. She is accused of corresponding with an undercover agent via Facebook and email about a plan to kill someone 12 years old or older wearing fur outside of the Coventry Village Library.
The FBI wrote in an affidavit that she sent the e-mails from a computer in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library. The messages contain details about how she'd like the job done and her desire to be caught to spread awareness about an animal rights.
“The amount of money I will pay will be $730. You need to bring a gun that has a silencer on it and that can be easily concealed in your pants pocket or coat. Do not wear anything that even remotely looks like fur. If you do not want to risk the possibility of getting caught with a gun before the job, bring a sharp knife that is at least 4 inches long ... I want the person to be dead in less than 2 minutes (under 2 minutes or 1 minute or less would be better,)" the suspect wrote, according to the FBI.
Later the affidavit states she wrote about her disdain for the new Cleveland Aquarium and likened the fish in tanks to babies in bathtubs.
"We as animal rights activists need to put a stronger fight against people who abuse animals."
Lowell also said living with her family was frustrating for her because they eat meat, wear animal products like wool and leather and have a chair made of fur.
"...until the hit on someone wearing fur is done, I will not be able to get away from my house. So now you know part of the reason why I am going to stay at the location of the hit after the hit is done at the library — partially to get away from my house."
Cleveland Heights Patch will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.