Rodney Hill, appearing Thursday in Grafton County Superior Court in North Haverhill, was ruled competent to stand trial in the January killing of Catherine “Kitty” Houghton at a Littleton hotel. Hill, of West Danville, Vt., is charged with alternative counts of first- and second-degree murder in what prosecutors say was an unprovoked attack on a 70-year-old woman he didn’t know. (BOB HOOKWAY)
Vt. man competent for trial in stabbing death
HAVERHILL — A Grafton County Superior Court judge Thursday ruled that a Vermont man who’s charged in the stabbing and slashing death of a woman last winter at a Littleton hotel is competent to stand trial.
Rodney Hill of West Danville, Vt., told police on the night of Jan. 28 that he was the “son of Lucifer” and attacked Catherine “Kitty” Houghton, 70, of the San Francisco Bay area because he believed she was his father, the Devil, in disguise, and was out to harm him and his family.
During his rambling account of what happened that night, according to court records, Hill acknowledged that Houghton, a multilingual veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, was an “innocent” person whom he did not know.
Both were guests at the Hampton Inn off Route 302 when Hill tackled Houghton in the lobby and stabbed her with a “Leatherman-type” knife, a desk clerk told police.
Hill, 37 at the time of the killing, was led into court Thursday shackled. He conferred with his attorney, Martha Hornick of the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office in Littleton.
Hill has been in custody since the killing and has, according to Senior Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Susan Morrell, undergone extensive psychological evaluation.
Morrell and Hornick met with Judge Peter H. Bornstein in chambers for about 20 minutes Thursday. When they emerged and the hearing started, Hornick said she would not contest the state’s opinion that Hill, a married father of three children, was competent to stand trial. The hearing took less than five minutes.
Houghton had long-standing ties to New Hampshire’s North Country and was in the area to fulfill her duties as a trustee at The Mountain School in Bethlehem, about five miles from the hotel.
Hornick said in a brief interview that, barring a plea agreement, the trial should start in February.