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United States v. Jones

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division

August 23, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Ulysses Jones, Jr., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          John T. Maughmer United States Magistrate Judge.

         Defendant Ulysses Jones, Jr. (“Jones”) has been charged in a superceding indictment [Doc. 38] with committing the murder of Timothy Baker on January 9, 2006, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, specifically the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri (a federal Bureau of Prisons facility). The superceding indictment sets forth certain “special findings” made pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 3591, 3592(c), and, in that regard, the Government has filed an Amended Notice of Intent to Seek Death Penalty [Doc. 102] for Jones pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3593(a).

         On December 7, 2016, attorneys representing Jones filed Defense Counsel's Request for a Determination of Mental Competency of the Defendant [Doc. 226], alleging that Jones:

suffers from major cognitive impairments, brought about by a combination of medical and mental ailments and limitations that render him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to fully understand and appreciate the complex nature of these proceedings against him and to assist properly in the defense against this capital prosecution.

         On December 13, 2016, the Court granted the motion and ordered:

[Jones] be committed to a suitable facility . . . to undergo a psychiatric examination . . . to be conducted by a licensed or certified psychiatrist or psychologist employed by the institution to determine whether [Jones] is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that [Jones] is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.

         Doc. 230. Beginning July 24, and 26, 2017, the undersigned held a hearing on the motion challenging Jones' competency to stand trial. Jones was present and was represented by his counsel, Shane P. Cantin and Thomas D. Carver with Carver, Cantin & Mynarich, LLC. The government was represented by James D. Peterson, a Trial Attorney in the Capital Case Section of the U.S. Department of Justice's Criminal Division, and Assistant United States Attorney Randy Eggert. At the hearing, five witnesses testified: Dr. Ruediger Lehrich, Dr. Stacey Wood, Dr. Tracy O'Connor Pennuto, Dr. Kristina Lloyd, and Dr. Scott Moose. Additionally, the following exhibits were admitted into evidence:

Number

Description

Def't Ex. A

Lehrich report (2017)

Def't Ex. B

Volume status and serum urea

Def't Ex. C

Lehrich declaration

Def't Ex. D

Lehrich (2015)

Def't Ex. E

Wood competency report

Def't Ex. G

Wood CV

Def't Ex. H

Wood testimony from Atkins hearing

Def't Ex. I

Reschly testimony from Atkins hearing

Def't Ex. J

Denney report from Atkins hearing

Def't Ex. K

Moose memorandum

Def't Ex. L

Lehrich CV

Gov't Ex. 1

Wood report (2014)

Gov't Ex. 2

FIT-R competency test

Gov't Ex. 3

Pennuto CV

Gov't Ex. 4

Lloyd CV

Gov't Ex. 5

Moose CV

Gov't Ex. 6

2017 competency report

Gov't Ex. 7

Miscellaneous medical records

Gov't Ex. 8

Anderson testimony from Atkins hearing

         I. OVERVIEW

         In American jurisprudence, “[i]t has long been accepted that a person whose mental condition is such that he lacks the capacity to understand the nature and object of the proceedings against him, to consult with counsel, and to assist in preparing his defense may not be subjected to a trial.” Drope v. Missouri, 420 U.S. 162, 170, 95 S.Ct. 896, 903 (1975). To that end, with regard to federal criminal cases, courts have adopted “a test of incompetence which seeks to ascertain whether a criminal defendant ‘has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.'” Id. at 172, 95 S.Ct. at 904 (quoting, in part, Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402, 402, 80 S.Ct. 788, 789 (1960)). In addition, Congress has enacted statutory guidance for the procedures to be followed in determining a criminal defendant's competence to stand trial. 18 U.S.C. § 4241.

A district court must first determine, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the defendant suffers from a ‘mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.”

United States v. Ferro, 321 F.3d 756, 760 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting, in part, 18 U.S.C. § 4241 (a), (d)).

         II. RELEVANT FACTS

         A. ...


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