Weston Given New Drug as Prosecutors Seek Extension for Forced Medication

Posted December 8, 2003 at 2:52pm

A forensic psychiatrist testified Monday that a new drug regimen should allow medical experts to determine within six months whether alleged Capitol Police shooter Russell Weston Jr. will ever gain the competency required to stand trial.

Sally Johnson, a psychiatrist who monitors Weston at the Federal Correction Institute in Butner, N.C., told the U.S. District Court that Weston was prescribed the anti-psychotic drug Clozaril in late October.

“This is somewhat of a gold standard” of anti-psychotic medication, Johnson told Judge Emmet Sullivan during the Monday hearing, one of many held to evaluate Weston’s progress.

Weston, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, has been forcibly medicated with anti-psychotic drugs since 2002. He was declared incompetent to stand trial in 1999. She added, however, if Weston does not fully respond to the new drug within a six-month period, “It would be unlikely that his competency would be restored.”

Although he has been indicted, Weston has never been tried in the 1998 shootings that killed Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson.

Before a possible trial could be held, Sullivan would need to order a new competency hearing to determine whether Weston is able to stand trial.

But if Weston’s mental state does not improve through medication, he could eventually be involuntarily committed on a long-term basis to a secure hospital facility rather than a prison. In such a situation, he would not be found guilty of criminal responsibility for his alleged actions.

Federal prosecutors are currently seeking a six-month extension of the court order requiring Weston to be forcibly medicated. The current order expired Nov. 19, but Sullivan approved a temporary extension to May 19 while attorneys for both sides file their responses. A hearing on the prosecutors’ motion will be held Feb. 10.

The defense team opposes such orders, but it will not submit its response to the motion until Jan. 12.

Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer, who attended the hearing along with Chestnut’s widow, Wen-Ling, described Johnson’s assertion as “positive.”

“It is positive in light of the fact that we should know [if it will] or it won’t work in six months,” Gainer said.

During the hearing, Johnson reiterated her belief that Weston could become competent to stand trial in the “foreseeable future,” defined by the six-month period required for the new drug to be fully effective.

Medical personnel elected to change Weston’s medication; he had previously been prescribed Abilify, after an early-October interview session with Weston, Johnson explained.

“It became clear that he still retained some of the delusional thinking,” Johnson said, and later added that there are “ideas [Weston’s] been holding for a long time, are still ideas that he’s holding on too.”

Weston’s attorney, public defender A.J. Kramer, has noted in previous hearings that his client claims to be a graduate of Harvard University and dean of both its law and medical schools. Weston has likewise theorized that he is a law enforcement official and the Butner staff, including Johnson, are escaped federal prisoners.

Both Kramer and Johnson noted Monday that Weston continues to maintain those theories, through neither mentioned the “ruby satellite system” Weston described to defense psychiatrist Phillip Resnick in 1999. Weston told Resnick the satellite was located in the Capitol and that he planned to use it as a transporter to travel to a time when he is “no longer deceased.”

“The key here is the impact the medication has on his delusional systems,” Johnson said. “His delusional ideas were not being adequately impacted by the Abilify.”

Though he has agreed to the new medication, which requires weekly blood tests, Johnson said that Weston has refused to take part in additional psychological testing to monitor his mental status.

“There are several things he uses to justify his lack of cooperation,” Johnson said, noting that Weston often asserts the Butner staff have improper identification or are escaped convicts.

In response to numerous questions from Sullivan, including whether he had taken his medication and if he was prepared to proceed to trial, Weston responded only with variations of “I’m suppose to remain silent.”