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New competency hearing set for MacDill intruder

TAMPA — Months after Suzanne Jensen was sent to a federal prison medical center to determine whether she is competent to stand trial for sneaking onto MacDill Air Force Base four times, her current mental condition is a mystery to her family and public defender.

During a status hearing Thursday morning in U.S. District Court, Jensen’s federal public defender, Stephen Baer, complained that he hasn’t been given a detailed report on her current condition. In interviews, Jensen’s mother has said Jensen suffers from delusions of being a secret agent and was likely acting out that fantasy when she snuck onto MacDill and several other military installations around the country. Jensen began sneaking onto bases more than a decade ago, according to court records, starting at Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, N.C. in 2003. She has since been detained at Fort George C. Meade in Maryland, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., Fort Carson in Colorado and Fort Benning in Georgia in addition to MacDill.

Baer told Federal Magistrate Anthony E. Porcelli that he wanted to know “what type of treatment as well as medication” Jensen was receiving at the Federal Medical Facility Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, where she has been undergoing mental competency evaluations. Baer said he was also concerned that Jensen “may still have medical issues.” And he pointed out that Jensen, who was ordered to go to Texas after being ruled incompetent in August, has already spent more time incarcerated than the maximum sentence for the five misdemeanors she is charged with.

In June, Jensen was charged with four counts of trespassing onto a federal military base and one count of unauthorized possession of a military identification. The maximum sentence for each count is six months.

Porcelli, saying Baer raised “valid points,” ordered a new competency hearing for Jensen for 10 a.m. Feb. 18. She is scheduled to return to Tampa on Feb. 14.

Jensen trespassed onto MacDill, home of U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command, four times between Oct. 1, 2012 and Jan. 4, 2013, according to federal court records. She told base security that she twice scaled fences, one time using an overturned garbage can as a ladder.

Jensen’s stay at FMC Carswell has been frustrating for Jensen’s family.

“I hope they have given her enough medications for this,” said Jensen’s mother, Karla Straube. “That is my concern.”

Straube said that when her daughter is on the proper medication, “she really is a very kind, sweet person. She was on military bases for safe refuge. She concocted this idea of being a secret agent as her persona, but she really was not a threat to anyone.”

Realizing that her daughter needs help, Straube said she contacted officials at Carswell to no avail.

“I wrote a letter asking all kinds of questions and have gotten no response,” said Straube. ”I just feel like a big steel door shut behind Suzanne. Nobody is saying anything. We’ve had no contact. No nothing.”

Bureau of Prison policy holds that information about competency evaluations is presented directly to the court, unless ordered otherwise, which has not happened.

Straube said she last spoke with her daughter a few months ago, when she was at an Oklahoma City transfer center.

“She seemed OK,” said Straube. “That was a surprise, because she was held so long in Tampa with no medication that her public defender and the judge thought it was really very inhumane to keep someone in jail with no medication.”

By the time Jensen arrived in Oklahoma City, she appeared to have received medication, said Straube.

“By the time she got to Oklahoma City, she was more balanced and stable,” said Straube. “She sounded pretty good.”

haltman@tampatrib.com
 

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