BANGOR, Maine — A Superior Court judge has found a local man not competent to stand trial for allegedly stabbing at and cutting a woman’s neck with a knife at Java Joe’s, a downtown coffee shop, a year ago.
Justice William Anderson ordered Jason Dean committed to Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta for evaluation, according to Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County. If, after treatment, Dean were to be found competent within the next year, a trial would be held, Roberts said.
Dean, 33, is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. He allegedly entered Java Joe’s Cafe at 98 Central St. at about 11 a.m. March 16, 2009, and walked behind the counter. He used a steak knife to cut the neck of the victim, who was washing dishes, according to court documents.
Bangor police said Dean did not know the woman, who was pregnant at the time of the attack. She suffered a 2-inch-long, half-inch-wide cut to the right side of her neck that police said was not life-threatening. She was treated at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and released the same day, according to previously published reports.
Before Anderson’s three-page ruling, dated March 1, 2010, Dean was held at the Penobscot County Jail unable to make bail set at $50,000 cash.
The judge issued his decision after hearing testimony from a state forensic psychologist and psychiatrist and physicians for the defense, who disagreed on whether Dean was competent, according to Roberts.
Under state law, the judge had to decide whether Dean had a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings against him and whether he was able to consult with his attorney and make decisions about his defense.
Anderson decided that Dean, who is illiterate and functions at the level of an 8-year-old, was unable to do either. In addition to being described as mildly retarded, Dean has been diagnosed with prost-traumatic stress disorder with psychotic features as a result of abuse as a child, according to court documents.
He has experienced periodic states of dissociation, flashbacks, and visual and auditory hallucinations. Dean also suffers from bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to court documents.
“Considering all of these diagnoses and their impact on Mr. Dean’s ability to truly understand the charges and proceedings as well as his ability to reasonably assist counsel, the court finds that he is not competent to stand trial,” Anderson wrote.
Dean, who has a criminal history of assault and criminal threatening that dates back to 1997, has been found competent in the past, according to Roberts.
The staff at Riverview will submit evaluations of Dean’s treatment and progress to Anderson after the defendant has been at the facility 30 days, then again after 60 days, the prosecutor said Tuesday. A final report will be issued in a year.
“At that point, the judge could decide that treatment continue, or, the court could dismiss the charges,” Roberts said. “If Dean were to be found competent, we’d proceed to trial.”
After a year, if Dean still was not competent, the prosecutor said, the judge could commit him to a residential treatment facility or release Dean but order him to undergo outpatient treatment.
Defense attorney David Bate of Bangor said Tuesday that Anderson’s decision was the right one for his client.
“We recognize that this was a terrible event for the victim, and we’re not disregarding that,” he said, “but Mr. Dean is not able to balance all the issues, all the pro and cons, in the criminal process.
“I can’t do anything if my client’s not competent,” Bate continued. “A lawyer can advise. He’s kind of like a navigator, but the defendant is really the captain of the ship. It’s no good to have a navigator if you don’t have a captain.”
If convicted of the attempted murder charge, Dean faces up to 30 years in prison and fine of up to $50,000.