A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled Friday that a 19-year-old man charged in a series of hammer attacks in Petworth, including a fatal assault on a tourist, is incompetent to stand trial at this time.
A mental health evaluation for Michael W. Davis, which describes the regimen of anti-psychotic drugs that he is now taking, states he is diagnosed with schizophrenia and concludes it will take further evaluation to decide whether he will be able to participate in court proceedings.
“It was clear from the two examinations that Mr. Davis is going to require intensive group and individual competency classes with an emphasis on visual cues along with mock trial scenarios,” wrote D.C. Department of Mental Health psychologist Elizabeth Teegarden in an evaluation filed in D.C. Superior Court.
Mr. Davis is currently charged with first-degree murder in the April killing of 66-year-old Denver tourist Gary Dederichs and assault with intent to kill in two attacks in which police believe victims were each struck in the head with a hammer. The three attacks, and two others for which no one has been charged, all occurred within a 50-hour time frame and a 10-block radius of one another.
“I do find substantial probability that the same person committed all of these attacks,” Judge Robert Morin said at the conclusion of Mr. Davis’ preliminary hearing Friday.
During Friday’s hearing, Mr. Davis’ defense attorney, public defender Dana Page, said little about her client’s mental state and focused instead on discrepancies in descriptions given of the attacker’s clothing and the man police pursued before eventually stopping Mr. Davis.
But testimony by homicide Detective Gabriel Truby and the mental evaluation filed provided better context into Mr. Davis’ current mental health.
During an initial evaluation with psychiatrists, Mr. Davis was described as “generally alert, pleasant, cooperative, and in no acute distress” but “his gaze appeared distant rather than focused, as if he was staring off into space,” wrote Ms. Teegarden.
In court Friday, Mr. Davis, who is the younger brother of two professional football players, sat gap-mouthed and staring straight ahead throughout all of the several-hour long hearing.
Despite his demeanor Friday, Detective Truby testified that Mr. Davis has been prone to episodes of aggression that were so intense his family denied him entry to his Petworth home in an effort to get him to calm down before coming back inside. When Mr. Davis was arrested April 26, just after a 19-year-old woman was struck in the back of the head, he made sudden utterances to police stating he was “a really good person.”
“He did appear to me to be mentally slow in some capacity,”Detective Truby said.
Other court documents indicate Mr. Davis has had a history of hospitalizations. He was hospitalized in 2011 after “having auditory and visual hallucinations.” Documents filed in that case state he was hospitalized an additional time in 2008 but do not provide an explanation.
A follow up mental observation hearing was scheduled for July and Judge Morin ordered a full competency evaluation to be conducted in an inpatient facility.
Monica Johnson, the mother of the 19-year-old victim, attended the hearing and was upset at the ruling that Mr. Davis was deemed incompetent.
“If you can go around and follow someone, stalk someone, then you know what you are doing,” she said.
• Andrea Noble can be reached at email@example.com.
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