Defendant’s Mental Observation Hearing Focuses on Racial Issues

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On June 14, a mental observation hearing for 57-year-old Joseph Evans continued following lengthy cross-examination of a behavioral witness. 

Evans is charged with kidnapping while armed, first-degree sexual abuse while armed, and assault with a dangerous weapon for his alleged involvement in an incident committed on Sept. 24, 2012 on the unit block of K Street, NE. According to court documents, a gun was discharged during the incident. Evans is being held at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital.  

Prosecutors called a psychologist from the DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), who does mental evaluations of Evans to testify about the suspect’s mental competency. The witness said Evans does show signs of mental illness, but that is not enough to declare him to be mentally incompetent. Based on the evaluations, Evans is aware of his alleged charges and is aware of his legal rights.

When asked by the prosecutor how she can assess whether or not someone can work with a counsel, she said “I look at one to see if they are stable enough to engage in a linear conversation. I look at their ability to identify evidence.” 

The witness believes Evans suffers from cultural paranoia, meaning a response by African Americans to be fearful of oppression and discrimination.

During the defense’s cross-examination, Andrew Ain addressed one of the statements made where Evans claimed to be a member of the Klu Klux Klan. He also asked the witness what other comments were made about Evans’ counsel by the defendant.

“Evans was doubtful regarding his attorneys’ ability to defend him since he is a black man and his lawyer is white,” she said. 

The witness also said “race comes up time and time again,” when the defense asked about the routine evaluations.

Evans’ has had numerous mental observation hearings since he was first indicted. This proceeding started on June 9, and DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt hopes to have a decision by the end of the month. 

Parties are expected back in court on June 16.

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