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Suspect in Norwick hit-and-run to be screened for competency

A Rohnert Park man charged in a fatal hit-and-run collision with a Penngrove bicyclist will be examined by a psychologist for an initial determination of his competency to participate in the case.

Criminal proceedings against Robert E. Cowart, 68, were suspended Friday by Sonoma County Judge Julie Conger after Cowart's defense attorney, George Boisseau, raised the question of his client's competency.

Steve Ranish, a county mental health psychologist, will conduct a "cursory exam" of Cowart and report his findings at a hearing July 20, Deputy District Attorney Troye Shaffer said. The exam will determine if a more detailed assessment of Cowart's status is needed, she said.

Cowart is charged with felony hit-and-run in the death of Sonoma State University professor Steve Norwick, 68, who was hit by a pickup riding on Petaluma Hill Road on June 8.

Norwick never regaining consciousness and died 11 days later at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Prosectors have previously said that a manslaughter charge could be filed against Cowart, a decision that is still under consideration, Shaffer said Friday.

— Guy Kovner


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