- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 21, 2001

Charrisise Blackmond is not mentally competent now — but may be in the "foreseeable future" — to stand trial in the death of her 23-month-old daughter, Brianna, according to the director of the District's forensic services.
The assessment came yesterday as D.C. Superior Court Judge Lee F. Satterfield considered whether Blackmond, 32, should be tried on Sept. 17 with her friend Angela T. O'Brien.
Also to be considered is whether Blackmond should be forcibly medicated, an issue that has stalled the death penalty trials of Russell Eugene Weston Jr., 45, charged with murdering two U.S. Capitol policemen in 1998, and Gregory Devon Murphy, 29, charged with murdering Kevin Shiflett, 8, in Alexandria in April 2000.
Mr. Weston has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and Mr. Murphy as paranoid schizophrenic.
Blackmond has an "adjustment disorder with depressed mood, bereavement and mild mental retardation," according to Dr. Raymond F. Patterson, director of the District's Forensic Services Administration.
She has a factual understanding but no rational understanding of the proceedings against her, said Dr. Patterson. She is "likely to attain competency in the foreseeable future."
Blackmond, mother of eight other children, is charged with first- and second-degree child abuse, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. She and Brianna were living with Miss O'Brien when Brianna died of massive head injuries on Jan. 6, 2000.
Both women were found competent to stand trial after mental examinations in May. In June, Judge Satterfield ordered Blackmond confined to St. Elizabeths Hospital to undergo further evaluation and treatment.
Yesterday, assistant public defender Santha Sonenberg asked that Blackmond be released from St. Elizabeths because sessions with mental technicians there occur only about four hours per week.
Judge Satterfield denied the request, but agreed to let Blackmond go with Miss Sonenberg to a consultation with an "expert" in preparation for legal arguments on August 14, including the issue of forced medication.
Brianna's case has had ramifications for the District's social services program and the courts.
Around Thanksgiving 1999, Blackmond, who formerly was convicted on drug abuse charges, requested that Brianna be returned to her from a foster home. Social workers decided it was unsafe, but their decision did not reach Judge Evelyn C. Queen.
Brianna was turned over to her mother in Miss O'Brien's Northeast home on Christmas Eve 1999. She died of massive head injuries 13 days later in Children's Hospital. Miss O'Brien and Blackmond said the toddler had fallen down some steps.
A grand jury heard testimony that Miss O'Brien slammed Brianna to the floor because of persistent crying.

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