- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 11, 2001

The Supreme Court yesterday refused to consider whether the Constitution permits forcing a man accused of killing two U.S. Capitol Police officers to take drugs that would make him fit for trial.
The high court refused to hear constitutional questions in the case of Russell Eugene Weston, who is accused of the 1998 gunshot slayings of U.S. Capitol Police officers Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson as they manned their posts at the Capitol.
Weston, deemed a schizophrenic by defense and prosecution experts, has refused to take medication that would enable him to assist in his own defense and understand the charges against him when his case comes to trial.
"We are encouraged by this development, and we look forward to the case being adjudicated," said Capitol Police spokesman Lt. Dan Nichols.
Lt. Nichols said he would be alerting U.S. Capitol Police of the ruling and said he hoped there could be some closure in the case.
Officials from the U.S. Public Defender's Office said the high court's denial of certiorari a legal hearing closes the door on the forced medication aspect of the Weston case.
The court's refusal to hear arguments will affect other criminal cases where mentally ill defendants refuse to take medication that would make them competent to stand trial.
The Alexandria case of Gregory Murphy is an example.
Mr. Murphy, a paranoid schizophrenic, is accused of the April 2000 killing of 8-year-old Kevin Shiflett on the front lawn of his grandparents' home, while Mr. Murphy was on parole.
Like Weston, Mr. Murphy refused to take medication that would make him competent to stand trial, but he relented when Virginia's appeals court ruled Mr. Murphy could be force-fed medication, said S. Randolph Sengel, the commonwealth's attorney for Alexandria.
"The underlying issue is the same what rights does the state have to [help bring] criminals to trial?" Mr. Sengel said.
Mr. Sengel said there have been attempts to overturn the Murphy ruling. But the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the Weston case likely will put a stop to further opposition "because the cases are so similar."

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