Murder Defendant’s Competency Remains Under Assessment

A DC Superior Court judge ordered an updated report on a homicide defendant’s competency to stand trial.

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

Randall, 32, has been found incompetent to stand trial on several occasions throughout the trajectory of her case. She has continued to receive treatment at the hospital in hopes that her competency would be restored, something that previous reports said had a “substantial probability” of happening. 

However, defense attorney Ashley Guzman said that, in the most recent report, the doctor did not indicate that her client was likely to become competent in the foreseeable future. 

The prosecution said Randal tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of December and argued that her COVID-19 symptoms interfered with her ability to take the evaluation, which also ended early.

The prosecution requested another competency evaluation after Randall tests negative for COVID-19 as well as the doctor who examines Randall to provide an explanation to the judge.

The prosecution also said they were deciding whether or not to call a second expert witness, independent from the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), to evaluate Randall.

Defense attorneys Guzman and Dana Page argued that, despite COVID-19, the recent report is consistent with previous evaluations. 

Guzman also said that they have waited the required 180 days to see if Randal has made any significant progress in her competency, but she has not. 

Judge Neal Kravitz asked both the defense and the prosecution who they believed had the burden of proof in whether Randall is restorable. 

The prosecution said they believed the defense bears the burden because they are the ones asserting incompetence. 

Page agreed with that original assessment; however, she added that since the prosecution disagrees with the report’s findings, the burden of proof shifts to the prosecution.

Judge Kravitz decided that both sides should have the opportunity to present complete arguments. 

“I don’t think this should extend for a significant period of time, but I think that [the prosecution’s] req uest for [DBH] to explain to the court is not unreasonable,” said Judge Kravitz.

Judge Kravitz decided to ask for an updated DBH report after Randall recovers from COVID-19 and instructed the defense and prosecution to gather any witnesses they would like before the next hearing.

He scheduled a hearing for Jan. 21. 

Maria Marzullo wrote this story