Judge Plans to Release Incompetent Defendant

Thank you for reading D.C. Witness. Help us continue our mission into 2024.

Donate Now

A DC Superior Court judge continued a July 24 hearing to July 27 so the defendant may be safely released. 

On April 26, 2019, Jaquan Woodberry pleaded guilty to carrying a pistol without a license. He was sentenced to 9 months in jail, all of which were suspended, plus 18 months of supervised probation. 

While on probation, Woodberry was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.

The defendant is currently being held at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, DC’s psychiatric institution. He was found incompetent due to cognitive limitations.

Defense attorney Rebecca Bloch argued for her client’s release. “I don’t see what continued hospitalization does for Mr. Woodberry except essentially warehousing him.”

The prosecution opposed the release, citing former noncompliance with probation. When he was previously released, the defendant received 15 violations of drug testing in roughly three months. The prosecution found this especially concerning, since Woodberry was under the influence of marijuana at the time of his offense.

The prosecution also said he had issues with GPS tampering and was a loss of contact with the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team.

While at St. Elizabeth’s, he was reported to have behavioral problems and be noncompliant with medication.

Bloch said Woodberry’s behavioral outbursts were the result of frustration of his hearings continuously being pushed back. His hearing was initially supposed to be held on March 31, but has since been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bloch said her client has been struggling with a prolonged period of hospitalization.

Judge Michael Ryan expressed a desire to release the defendant as soon as possible. He said that a mental health institution is not helpful to Woodberry, who has a developmental disability.

However, Judge Ryan decided against releasing the defendant because of safety concerns. “In my experience, bad things happen on weekends,” he said. 

Judge Ryan plans to release the defendant at his next hearing.

Notifications are not yet available for this specific case. Please check back later for updates. Thank you.