A Beltsville, Md. man arrested last week for allegedly stabbing a 15-year-old transgender woman in the back on a Metro train arriving at the Fort Totten Station was scheduled to undergo a preliminary mental health evaluation on Thursday at the request of his attorney.
D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge William Nooter granted the request for the mental exam for Reginald Anthony Klaiber, 24, at a court proceeding Wednesday morning. Nooter also granted defense attorney Veronice Holt’s request for a second postponement of a full preliminary hearing for her client.
The mental health exam, which is conducted by the psychiatric staff of the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, is intended to determine whether Klaiber is competent to stand trial. Court observers say a request for such an exam by the defense suggests that the defense might be considering a plea of insanity.
Klaiber, who, according to court records is also known as Reginald Kaliber, has been held in jail since the time of his arrest on July 30.
The preliminary hearing, now scheduled for Friday, Aug. 8, was expected to include testimony by one or more Metro Transit Police officers assigned to investigate an incident that both police and the U.S. Attorney’s office have classified as an anti-transgender hate crime.
The victim in the attack, a D.C. resident, was treated for a non-life threatening stab wound at Washington Hospital Center before being released. Authorities have so far not disclosed the victim’s identity.
Police and prosecutors have charged Klaiber with assault with a dangerous weapon – bias related. The bias related “enhancement” could subject Klaiber to a more severe jail sentence upon conviction based on the D.C. hate crimes law.
A charging document filed in court by prosecutors says Klaiber approached the victim and two of her friends shortly after boarding a Green Line train headed in the direction of Branch Avenue at the West Hyattsville Station about 4:40 p.m. on July 30.
“The defendant said to the complainant, “Are you a boy, you are a boy right, you got a dick, right?” the charging document says.
“The complainant initially ignored the defendant, but the defendant continued to harass the complainant,” prompting her to tell him, “Please leave me alone” and “get away from me,” it says.
According to the charging document, Klaiber allegedly responded by shouting, “You a motha fucking boy, with a fucking dick, why you be looking like a woman moe?”
The charging document says that as the train was pulling into the Fort Totten Station the victim stood up and Klaiber also stood up, “pulled out a knife, grabbed the complainant from behind into a bear hug, and stabbed the complainant in the back.”
Jae-La White, 19, one of the victim’s two friends on the train, told the Blade that the second friend, a 17-year-old gay man, responded to the alleged stabbing by spraying Klaiber in the face with a canister of mace. The victim and her two friends then ran out of the train onto the platform with Klaiber allegedly chasing after them in the station.
“You faggot motha fuckers pepper sprayed me, I am going to stab your faggot ass again!” the charging document quotes Klaiber as saying.
A statement released by Metro says that Metro Transit Police officers stopped and arrested Klaiber a short time later as he was attempting to flee the station. The Metro statement says the police officers confiscated a folding knife with a three-and-a-half-inch blade from Klaiber at the time of his arrest.
“This attack highlights the fact that many trans young people, especially trans women of color, face potential harm and harassment each day,” a statement released Aug. 4 by the local LGBT youth advocacy group SMYAL says.
“The reality is that the underlying causes of these sort of violent incidents are complex,” the statement quotes SMYAL’s new executive director Sultan Shakir as saying. “We need to create strong anti-bullying programs that address anti-LGBT and gender-based harassment and bullying in our schools,” Shakir said.
Local transgender advocates Ruby Corado and Earline Budd noted that violence against transgender residents of D.C. is an ongoing problem. Budd pointed to a D.C. police report of a robbery last week of a transgender woman on Martin Luther King Boulevard., S.E., in which the perpetrator said, “I’m going to kill all the trannies. Don’t ask me questions, give me everything you have.”
Corado said she is reaching out to the victim in the Metro stabbing case in her role as director of Casa Ruby, an LGBT community services facility that assists the transgender community.
“This is not something new,” Corado said in discussing the Metro stabbing case. “This is part of our lives in this city. This is something that is happening every week.”