ERWIN — A mental evaluation has been ordered for Gerald Dorene Tipton, the Unicoi County woman arrested last week for allegedly paying an undercover agent posing as a hitman to kill her ex-husband.
The evaluation was requested by R.O. Smith with the public defender’s office, which is representing Tipton. The order was submitted to and signed by Unicoi County Sessions Court Judge David Shults on Thursday.
Tipton, 40, was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder, sale of a schedule IV drug and delivery of a schedule III drug following her Aug. 16 arrest.
Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department Administrative Assistant Robie Sullins previously said Tipton’s arrest was the result of a joint narcotics investigation initiated several months ago by the Erwin Police Department and UCSD. During the course of that investigation, police received a tip from an informant who told them of a possible murder-for-hire plot, Sullins said.
An undercover agent posing as a hitman met Tipton on Aug. 16 at the Unicoi County Welcome Center, where she paid the agent with money and prescription drugs to have her ex-husband killed, authorities previously said.
UCSD Chief Deputy Ronnie Adkins said previously that Tipton’s motive for wanting her ex-husband dead was past emotional distress during their marriage and the possibility of financial gain with him dead.
Sullins also said Tipton provided the undercover agent with a photograph of the man, information on the type of vehicle he drives, where he lives and what times he would be there and specific directions on how to complete the murder.
Following the transaction, Tipton’s vehicle was stopped and she was arrested as she attempted to leave the welcome center property, Adkins said.
Tipton’s hearing scheduled for Thursday in Sessions Court was reset for Sept. 8. However, Assistant District Attorney General Fred Lance said it is unlikely that the mental evaluation would be complete by that date.
Tipton’s current husband, James Tipton, was arrested hours after her for allegedly having knowledge of the murder-for-hire plot. Authorities said that during a police interview, James Tipton confessed to his knowledge of the plot and that his vehicle and prescription pills were used by his wife to complete the deal with the undercover agent.
James Tipton was charged with conspiracy to solicit first-degree murder and conspiracy to sell a schedule IV drug. He was also originally scheduled to appear in Sessions Court on Thursday, but his hearing was also reset to Sept. 8.