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US

Judge warns Capitol Hill shooting suspect

Russell Weston

Refusal to cooperate with psychiatrists could hurt Weston

March 3, 1999
Web posted at: 9:02 p.m. EST (0202 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal judge Wednesday warned the man accused of killing two Capitol Hill police officers that his refusal to cooperate with psychiatrists will be weighed against him as the court decides whether he is competent to stand trial.

District Judge Emmet Sullivan angrily lectured Russell Weston, "I'm going to consider his lack of cooperation, and whether it was a rational decision by the defendant, when I decide if he's competent or not."

In motions filed earlier this week prosecutors suggested that Weston, who was diagnosed years ago as a paranoid schizophrenic, is faking his current condition in order to be declared unfit for trial. They quoted post-shooting medical records that did not "reveal any delusional thinking on the part of the defendant."

Weston's lawyers called the accusation "nonsense."

Sullivan's warning was triggered by remarks of a prison psychiatrist who said Weston showed emotional responses to his questions even as he was refusing to talk to his examiners.

"His eyes teared up briefly," Dr. James Wolfson explained to the court. "When I explained to him that if he remains silent others will decide his fate for him, he showed some appreciation for that."

Earlier, Weston rebuffed several efforts by Sullivan, who sat across the defense table from him, to determine if he understood the court proceedings.

"On the advice of attorneys, I'm not prepared to make any statements at this time," Weston repeatedly told the judge in a calm, clear voice.

That is the same response he gave two psychiatrists at U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, when they attempted to evaluate the 42-year-old Montana man last month.

Weston was ordered back to a prison hospital in Washington, D.C., Friday, where psychiatrists will continue to try to evaluate him.

He is accused of ambushing and killing Officers John Gibson and Jacob J. Chestnut last summer. The widows of the two men attended Wednesday's hearing.

The court is trying to determine if he is competent to stand trial, not if he was insane at the time of the shooting.

Dr. Sally Johnson, another prison psychiatrist who received Weston's cooperation when she examined him last year, found him "incapable of assisting in his own defense."

A competency hearing to ultimately decide that is scheduled April 19.


RELATED STORIES:
Second psychiatric exam ordered for accused Capitol Hill shooter
January 28, 1999
Capitol Hill shooting suspect makes court appearance
September 23, 1998
Weston parents' grand jury testimony delayed
August 13, 1998
Security camera captured Capitol shooting incident
July 31, 1998
Capitol shooting suspect's lawyers want interview taped
July 30, 1998

RELATED SITES:
In the Line of Duty
   • Special Reports - DC Shooting - Illustrated Chronology of the Capitol Shootings
NPR Online- National Public Radio
   • Capitol Shooting Suspect Profile
Court TV Online
   • U.S.A v. Weston
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