Alleged two-time murderer not fit to stand trial, judge finds
A Multnomah County judge has found that the Oregon State Hospital denied a man mental health treatment for two years while wrongly accusing him of faking his illness.
After missing out on two years of treatment that could have helped restore some level of function to Demetruis Ray Brown, Circuit Judge Kathleen Dailey found that Brown is not fit to stand trial for his alleged roles in the 2014 murder of a 21-year-old pregnant woman in Southeast Portland and the 2013 murder of a 21-year-old man in Rockwood.
The state hospital "had three years to restore (the) defendant to competency and squandered two of those years by refusing to consider that (he) had legitimate symptoms of severe mental illness," Dailey wrote.
What happens next for Brown will be discussed at a hearing set for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19. Complicating his fate is the fact that the Oregon State Hospital faces an overcrowding crisis and judicial orders limit its options, even as it battles an outbreak of COVID-19 among inmates.
Two murders, one trial
In 2014, Brown was indicted for allegedly murdering Andreas Trent Jones and attempting to murder another man, Da-Mon McDonald.
In 2016, Brown was indicted for allegedly directing the 2014 murder of Ervaeua Herrings as part of a gang dispute. According to court documents, she died in a hail of at least 26 bullets fired from six different guns outside her apartment as alleged Hoover gang members targeted her boyfriend, an alleged Woodlawn Park Bloods member.
But even as others have been convicted for their roles in the Herring murder, Brown's alleged role remains an issue in the courts due to questions about whether he is mentally fit to stand trial.
Tangled diagnosis history
Brown's issues included schizophrenia, hallucinations and an apparent psychotic break in 2017 that led to him lose 41 pounds in prison.
The Oregon State Hospital concluded that Brown was faking or exaggerating his illness early on, became genuinely psychotic between July 2019 and September 2020, then recovered somewhat and again began "malingering," or "feigning" his illness.
On Friday, Jan. 15, Judge Dailey cited state and defense witnesses to find that the state hospital's position was "perplexing" and "not persuasive" or credible, noting that "four doctors with experience diagnosing and treating psychosis recognized Defendant as floridly psychotic upon meeting him in 2019 and did not believe him to be malingering."
She noted that the state hospital cited severe mental illness and cognitive issues to justify forced medication for Brown's condition, seemingly in conflict with its claim he was fit to stand trial.
"Hospital staff have opined as recently as November 28, 2020 that Defendant lacks the capacity to consent to medication, noting that he 'lacks factual understanding of treatment options,' 'lacks sufficient ability to rationally weigh the risks and benefits of treatment options,' and 'lacks sufficient ability to appreciate relevance of treatment options to his/her situation,'" Dailey wrote.
The judge also cited Brown's statements during his psychiatric examination, that "he wasn't worried about being in jail for life because 'I know I'm in a stimulation.'"
In another examination, Dailey noted, Brown said that if the "'stimulation' turns off while the trial is ongoing, he will 'come down from Guantanamo' and 'go up to space' to his wife and kids."
Added Dailey, "Defendant has never been married and has no children."
Concluded Dailey, "OSH had three years to restore Defendant to competency and squandered two of those years by refusing to consider that Defendant had legitimate symptoms of severe mental illness."
The hearing this morning could determine what happens next and whether Brown is civilly committed to the state's care.
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