Trucker Competent for Murder Trialby Jana Ritter - Published: 6/17/2013
A former Des Moines, Iowa trucker has been found legally competent to stand trial this fall. Ronald James Hawkinson, 40, faces murder charges after being accused of killing two men during a dispute at the office of a Des Moines trucking company's last year.
Questions about Hawkinson's ability to understand the case against him first arose last December, prompting delay of a murder trial originally scheduled for January. Finally, on Friday, the lawyer for Hawkinson cited four doctors who vouched for Hawkinson's competency. After a short court hearing Friday, Hawkinson's trial now is scheduled to begin Sept. 23.
He faces two charges of first-degree murder in connection with the May 2012 shooting deaths of Sherif Hidic, 30, and Robert Smoot, 49, at Seibert Trucking in southeast Des Moines. Hawkinson had feuded with Hidic over money for months, court records show. Police said the two somehow ended up in an argument on the grounds of Seibert Trucking and LCS Logistics, 1928 S.E. 15th Court, on May 17, 2012.
Smoot, who worked at LCS Logistics, appears to have been shot when he walked in on the confrontation, according to police accounts last year. Des Moines police found the bodies of Hidic and Smoot in a storage shed at LCS Logistics, a company with ties to Hidic that leased space from Seibert Trucking.
Polk County court records show Hidic filed a lawsuit against Hawkinson in November 2011, alleging Hawkinson had defaulted on a $13,000 loan and failed to repay another $1,100 that a trucking company loaned Hawkinson to make a child support payment. Documents say the $13,000 loan was supposed to have been used by Hawkinson to buy a truck that then was to be contracted out to Drina Trucking, a company linked to Hidic in Iowa secretary of state records.
Hidic‘s lawsuit alleged that Hawkinson had violated an oral contract by using that truck to work for a different company and sought repayment for the $13,000 loan, the child support payment, and another $2,000 that the company allegedly spent to hire a replacement driver. Court papers also say that Hawkinson sought other work because of his inability to get a proper accounting from Drina: “I have been left with a credit reputation obligated to pay for a truck, and the only way to protect interest is to work where there are receipts”, Hawkinson had claimed.