Judge Finds Murder Defendant Competent to Stand Trial

A DC Superior Court judge declared a murder defendant is competent to stand trial after receiving a report from the defense’s expert psychologist. 

Bratrell Hawkins, 27, is charged with second-degree murder while armed in the death of 26-year-old Xavier Tate. Tate was shot to death Jan. 5 on the 1400 block of Third Street, SW. 

Since Hawkins’ last hearing on June 18, the defense has encountered logistical challenges with arranging their expert to meet with Hawkins to finish his competency evaluation. The date for Hawkins’ mental health observation hearing has been moved several times since then. 

During the Sept. 8 felony status conference, defense attorney Laura Rose told Judge Neal Kravitz that the doctor finished her evaluation of the defendant. She found Hawkins to be marginally competent but unlikely to maintain competency if placed in the DC Jail. She suggested he stay at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, DC’s psychiatric institution, where he has been since February. 

Rose said the doctor believes the services that exist at the hospital are more adequate for Hawkins’ treatment than the ones provided at the jail. 

However, the prosecution argued that, because Hawkins was found competent to stand trial, he must be released from the hospital and put in the jail. 

Rose was unable to provide a written report of the doctor’s findings, specific suggestions and reasoning as to why the hospital is the most appropriate setting for Hawkins.

Judge Kravitz gave the defense until Sept. 18 to share a comprehensive report from the doctor with both him and the prosecution. He also ruled, for the record, that Hawkins is competent to stand trial.

For now, Hawkins will remain at St. Elizabeth’s.

Hawkins’ next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 6. After parties receive the report from the defense’s expert, Judge Kravitz will determine the type of hearing. 

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