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Suspect's mental competency still in question in Penngrove hit-and-run cyclist crash

Prosecutors said Friday they may seek neurological tests on a Rohnert Park man accused in the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist.

At a competency hearing Friday, prosecutors said they were unclear about the findings in a second psychological examination of Robert Cowart, who is accused of hitting cycling Sonoma State University professor Steve Norwick on June 8. Norwick died June 19 of his injuries.

The first analysis suggested Cowart was able to assist in his own defense. Prosecutor Troye Shaffer would not disclose the results of the second test.

Robert Cowart In Court

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Defense lawyers maintain Cowart, 68, suffered an aneurism and a stroke, but have not publicly disclosed when those medical events occurred or released any other details about his condition.

Cowart, who is free on bail, arrived in court Friday in a wheelchair. He stood when Judge Julie Conger entered the room.

One of his lawyers, Dena Meierhenry, told the judge additional information was coming from the Veterans Administration. She said it was in the nature of neurological testing.

Conger ordered both sides back to court next Friday, when prosecutors said they may seek an additional review.

"I just hope they don't keep dragging it out, one test after another," said Gary Helfrich, a Sonoma County bicycle advocate and close friend of Norwick.

Norwick was hit on Petaluma Hill Road on a weekly breakfast ride to Penngrove. CHP officers said Cowart recalled hitting a bicycle but didn't stop because he didn't think anyone was hurt.

The criminal case against Cowart has been suspended while his mental competence is analyzed.


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