A D.C. Superior Court Judge on Dec. 2 ruled that a 57-year-old man charged with first-degree murder while armed for the February 2012 stabbing death of transgender woman Deoni JaParker Jones is incompetent to stand trial.
Judge Robert E. Morin ordered Gary Niles Montgomery transferred from the D.C. jail to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for “competency restoration” and scheduled a court hearing to assess his mental health status for Feb. 7.
According to court records, Morin based his decision on a 30-day competency examination of Montgomery conducted at St. Elizabeth’s, the third such examination given to Montgomery since the time of his arrest two weeks after the Feb. 2, 2012 murder.
The first two exams found him competent to stand trial and prompted Morin to set a trial date for April 4, 2014. During the Dec. 2 hearing Morin vacated the trial date pending the outcome of further evaluation of Montgomery.
At the request of Montgomery’s defense attorneys, Anthony Matthews and Colle Latin, Morin agreed in October to send Montgomery to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a city-run psychiatric facility, to undergo a third mental competency evaluation.
A copy of the report for that examination, on which Morin based his decision to declare Montgomery incompetent to stand trial, couldn’t immediately be obtained.
In a Sept. 9, 2013 motion filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Shick, the lead prosecutor in the case, Shick argued that prevailing evidence showed Montgomery understood the issues surrounding his case and was competent to proceed to a trial.
“The defendant was arraigned in early November 2012 and pled not guilty,” Shick said in her motion. “During a Nov. 30 status hearing, the defense argued for the defendant’s release into the community, claiming there was insufficient evidence that the defendant was a danger to the community or a risk of flight – claims that the defense would be hard pressed to make if they had concerns about his competency.”
Alvin Bethea, the stepfather of Jones, told the Blade this week he is troubled over the judge’s decision to declare Montgomery incompetent for trial. He said he also remains concerned that prosecutors have yet to classify the murder as an anti-transgender hate crime.