- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

Russell Eugene Weston Jr. may become competent to stand trial for the slayings of two U.S. Capitol Police officers within the next two years if his forced medication is continued, a psychiatrist monitoring his treatment testified yesterday.
Dr. Sally Johnson, a consulting psychiatrist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Butner, N.C., testified in U.S. District Court that Weston has become more coherent and active, and his mental state appears to be improving.
"My opinion is it is substantially likely he will regain his competency in a one-to-two-year period," Dr. Johnson said during a hearing on whether Weston's forced medication should continue.
Federal public defender A.J. Kramer yesterday said the government should not have additional time to treat Weston because his mental condition has not improved.
"This shows us it is guesswork. They are saying, 'We hope it works in a year or so,'" Mr. Kramer said.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan is expected to rule on the matter today.
Weston, 46, is charged with murder in the deaths of U.S. Capitol Police Officers Jacob J. Chestnut, 58, and John M. Gibson, 42, on July 24, 1998. Weston said he said he went to the Capitol armed with a revolver to regain control of a time machine he invented.
He has been found to be schizophrenic and mentally incompetent to stand trial. Judge Sullivan in March 2001 ordered he be forcibly medicated, and after the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld his decision and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal in December, treatment of Weston began Jan. 30.
Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who sat during the hearing with the families and friends of Officers Gibson and Chestnut, yesterday said the lengthy legal proceeding has taken a toll on the families and friends. He said Dr. Johnson's testimony that Weston could one day stand trial was reassuring to the families.
Dr. Johnson said Weston is still delusional and paranoid, and has not reached competency to stand trial. He believes his attorney, the judge and the people treating him are federal criminals and the charges against him will be dropped.
"He does not have a complete understanding of his legal situation and doesn't have much judgment in that area," Dr. Johnson said.
Weston, who was shot in the leg and arm during the gun battle with Capitol Police officers, is still wheelchair-bound and was much more animated yesterday than in previous hearings.
In past hearings, he stared at the table and did not talk much. But during the opening of yesterday's hearing, Judge Sullivan asked him how he was doing, and he said, "Not too well."
Weston later complained that he was put in a cell in the D.C. jail that had no cot and the only place he had to sit was on a toilet all night.
Dr. Johnson said Weston has begun to respond to treatment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Walutes said it does not matter how long it takes Weston to regain his competency; the government has no intention of dropping the charges against him.
"This government will not dismiss this indictment. He is not going anywhere," Mr. Walutes said. "This case can be tried 20 years from now."

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