GI charged with attempted murder unfit to stand trial
February 24, 2009
BAMBERG, Germany — A 527th Military Police Company specialist was found mentally unfit to stand trial last week, ending his court-martial almost before it began.
Originally charged with the Dec. 6, 2007, attempted murder of a female soldier near Ansbach by allegedly bashing her head with a helmet, Spc. David T. Chase’s case grew much stranger after he began pretrial confinement in Mannheim.
During the first three months of 2008, Chase was also charged with willfully disobeying a noncommissioned officer and 14 specifications of assaulting his guards with everything from his fists and restraints to spittle, toilet paper, feces and semen.
At the court-martial on Wednesday, Chase was disheveled, unkempt, shackled and shuffling through the corridors of Bamberg’s law center under triple guard, many of whom were angered by the competency ruling given by the presiding military judge, Col. Jeffrey R. Nance.
The postponement of Chase’s case — scheduled to run three days — until he receives mental health care to see if he’s competent to stand trial in the future was the only option Nance had, according to lead defense counsel David Court.
"It was the only ruling he could make," Court said. "A forensic psychologist and forensic psychiatrist both made the same conclusion," Court said of expert witnesses who agreed Chase was unfit to participate in his own defense.
Because the Army has no pre-trial mental health care facilities, Chase will be sent to the States and his case turned over to the U.S. Attorney General’s office so a location for his hospital time can found, said Court. The mental health care is mandated by the military’s Manual for Courts-Martial.
Chase’s case can now go several ways, including a possible return to Germany for trial in the future if his mental state is ruled to have improved. "It’s up to the government how they want to proceed," said assistant defense counsel Capt. Clay Compton.