Judge Releases Mentally Incompetent Defendant

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A DC Superior Court judge released a defendant after finding him incompetent to stand trial.

Jaquan Woodberry is charged with carrying a pistol without a license with a prior felony and unlawful possession of a firearm with a prior conviction after Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers found a firearm in his waistband on Oct. 21, 2019, on the 2200 block of Sherman Ave, NW. At the time, the defendant was on probation for carrying a pistol without a license outside a home or business.

During the July 27 hearing, Judge Michael Ryan ordered the defendant to make himself available for interviews so the prosecution could decide whether or not to file a petition for civil commitment.

He was found incompetent, with no substantial probability of regaining competency, due to cognitive limitations.

Woodberry has been held at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, DC’s psychiatric institution, since Jan. 27. 

“I don’t see what continued hospitalization does for Mr. Woodberry except essentially warehousing him,” said defense attorney Rebecca Bloch.

The prosecution opposed release, citing Woodberry’s lack of compliance with probation.

While on probation, the defendant received 15 violations of drug testing over the course of three months. The prosecutor said this especially concerning since Woodberry was under the influence of marijuana at the time of his offense.

The prosecution also said the defendant had issues with tampering with his GPS tracking device, and was a loss of contact with the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, a community-based service that provides mental health treatment.

He was noncompliant with medication and had behavioral issues at St. Elizabeth’s. 

Bloch said Woodberry’s behavioral outbursts were the result of his frustrations with his hearings continuously being pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His hearing was initially supposed to be held on March 31.

Woodberry’s next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21 to give the prosecution time to decide if commitment papers will be filed.

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