Weston Competency Hearing Set

Posted April 15, 2008 at 6:39pm

The man who allegedly shot two Capitol Police officers 10 years ago wants to be discharged from the mental facility where he now lives.

Russell Weston Jr. entered the Capitol in 1998 and allegedly shot and killed Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson. The incident shocked a community unaccustomed to such violence — only one other Capitol Police officer had ever died on duty.

But Weston, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, never stood trial. He was indicted and committed to a mental health facility. Years of treatment there, however, have so far failed to make him competent enough to stand trial.

That could change May 6, when a competency hearing is scheduled to determine whether Weston is well enough to be discharged from the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C.

The hearing is set for 9 a.m. at the Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh, N.C.

Weston, not his doctors at Butner, asked for the hearing in a motion filed March 6. If he is found competent, it would start the lengthy process for a criminal case in Washington for the two murders, as well the wounding of Officer Douglas McMillian and a tourist, Angela Dickerson.

“Because more than six months have passed since the date of the last review of his commitment,” the motion states, “Mr. Weston is entitled to a hearing to review whether he should be discharged from the custody of the Attorney General.”

The Federal Public Defenders office in Raleigh, which is representing Weston, declined to comment on the motion or on the contents of the most recent mental review. For the hearing, Weston chose psychiatrist Holly Rogers to perform his independent medical health examination.

Weston’s mental state was last publicly disclosed when he was committed into the custody of the U.S. attorney general in August 2005. Forensic psychiatrist Sally Johnson testified that he suffered “chronic and severe” schizophrenia and had delusions that he was commander in chief of the military. He thought he was “tasked with his mission in Washington,” she said.

At that time, he had already undergone years of psychiatric treatment and held a job at the facility in Butner. But Johnson testified that while Weston was able to function amid other prisoners, he was still delusional and a danger because of he could now possibly recruit others in his dangerous acts.

Senior U.S. District Judge Earl Britt ordered that Weston be placed into the custody of the U.S. attorney general for “care and treatment.” He will again rule on Weston’s competency in May.