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Washington man's criminal charges reduced after diagnosis

An 18-year-old Washington man who was facing attempted murder charges has been found not mentally competent to stand trial. The prosecutor has further reduced his criminal charges in light of the fact that he is allegedly suffering from a mental disorder. According to state records, this ruling is rare in criminal cases.

The original charges of attempted murder stemmed from an attack on another man that was captured on video surveillance cameras. The incident occurred last summer when the accused man was 17. He was reportedly caught on tape stabbing another man with three sharp implements in his possession.

He allegedly told officers at the time of his arrest that he was intending to rob and murder the other man, whom he claimed was a bully. However, the attack ended with the victim suffering a wound to his head that required stitches, as well as less serious cuts to his hands and wrists. The victim has stated that he did not know his attacker. After being evaluated for his mental health, the accused man was diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been ordered to a mental health facility in lieu of a trial.

The prosecutor agreed to reduce the criminal charges because the man was found to be unable to form the intent to murder and would be unable to aid with his defense. However, he will still be held for an indefinite period of time due to the attack. Washington state only allowed mental institutionalization due to pleading not guilty by reason of insanity 22 times out of the more than 40,000 felonies committed yearly, according to records from 2009. This case is a rarity in criminal defense, and most of those who are charged with a crime cannot necessarily expect this outcome; however, there are many valid defenses that can be effective when one is faced with accusations of a criminal nature, along with many resources that can provide beneficial information and assistance.

Source: spokesman.com, "Stabbing defendant pleads not guilty by reason of insanity", Kip Hill, Aug. 1, 2014

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