Counsel Debates Murder Defendant’s Competency

Parties discussed how to proceed with a murder case after a judge rules that a murder defendant is still not mentally competent to stand trial more one year after her first assessment.

Alisa Randall is charged with second-degree murder while armed in the fatal stabbing of 59-year-old Ronald Jones Payne on July 15, 2019, on the 1300 block Euclid Street, NW. 

She is being held at St. Elizabeths Hospital, DC’s psychiatric institution, even though she has expressed the desire to be transferred to the DC Jail.

However, Judge Neal Kravitz, declined her request, saying the hospital is the best place for her because it’s a more therapeutic environment than the jail.

Randall was first found incompetent to stand trial in August 2019 and has been found incompetent on several occasions since then. However, previous reports have said there is “substantial probability” that her competency will be restored.

In Randall’s most recent report from the DC Department of Behavioral Health, the doctor did not indicate that the defendant was likely to become competent in the foreseeable future, said Ashley Guzman, Randall’s defense attorney.

he most recent report was received on Jan. 19.

During the Jan. 21 hearing that followed, another defense attorney, Dana Page, said Randall is far from having rational understanding, which is needed to assist her attorneys. 

She also said she doesn’t think there is a basis for the prosecution to have their own expert evaluate the defendant. 

Page said she has concerns with the prosecution’s expert’s evaluation. She said the doctor “illegally interrogated” a previous client of hers and the case judge agreed that the information should not have been solicited.

However, the prosecutor said that Page’s description of the events may not be entirely accurate. She said that the expert warned her ahead of time that Page may bring this up.

“What I want to avoid is having something explode 30 days from now and find out the government’s expert has asked Ms. Randall things the expert is not permitted to ask her about,” Judge Kravitz said. He said the allegations are troubling if they are true. 

Page also said she wants the prosecution’s expert to offer an opinion on if Randall’s competency can be restored, not if she’s competent. However, the prosecution saidthe request from the defense doesn’t make sense because the expert couldn’t make an opinion on restorability if that expert thinks the defendant’s competence has already been restored. Judge Kravitz agreed.

The defense also said they aren’t asking to be present during the evaluation, but they are asking for advance notice.

The judge agreed to that without any apparent objection from the prosecution. He also ordered that the evaluation be recorded.

Judge Kravitz ordered parties to engage in negotiations, so that both parties has the documentation needed.

“I’m confident you guys can do this,” he said.

The next hearing is scheduled for March 4.

Andrea Keckley wrote this article.