Kidnapped Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek worker died of 'undetermined trauma'
By RYAN MURPHY | The Virginian-Pilot (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 2, 2017
Ashanti Billie died from some unspecified trauma and was found in state of decay so advanced that her body was described as "partially skeletonized," according to a medical examiner's autopsy report.
The autopsy was performed by the Mecklenburg Country Medical Examiners Office. In the report, released by the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Billie's cause of death is listed as "Undetermined Trauma."
Billie was reported missing on Sept. 18 when she never showed up to open at the Blimpie sub shop on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek. A week and a half later, on Sept. 29, the 19-year-old's body was found mostly nude and badly decomposed behind a church in Charlotte, N.C.
Eric Brian Brown, a 45-year-old Navy veteran, has been charged in connection with Billie's abduction and death, partially based on DNA evidence taken from clothing recovered with her body.
The autopsy report states that Billie's body was partially skeletonized - an advanced state of decay where bones are clearly visible. Her organs and much of her upper body were severely decomposed and there were "abundant insect larvae present," the report said.
Billie's shirt and hoodie were pulled over her head and up to her hands, the report says. Besides the shirt and hoodie, she's listed as wearing only socks and a sports bra.
The document lists several things that were preserved as evidence from Billie's body, including clothing, insect larva, jewelry, fingerprints, pubic and head hair and swabs from Billie's fingernails, teeth, breasts, wrists and rectum.
Billie was positively identified by a tattoo of three roses connected by beads on her right thigh, the report said.
The release of the autopsy report comes as prosecutors, in an unusual move, asked a judge to have the federal Bureau of Prisons evaluate Brown's mental health. According to court documents, they are questioning Brown's competency to stand trial in light of some unspecified "irrational behavior" and "bizarre conduct" witnessed since he became a suspect in Billie's death.
Court documents indicate jail staff has also "documented and recorded ... unusual actions of the defendant" since his arrest. He is currently being held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail.
Such requests for a competency evaluations are not uncommon, but they are usually made by the defense or at least in conduction with the defense.
Brown's public defender, however, opposes the request -- which would require the defendant to be transferred to a federal facility at least three hours away. The defense wants him to be evaluated locally, prosecutors said.
If the request is granted, the evaluation would likely delay Brown's trial, which is not yet scheduled. If Brown is found incompetent to stand trial, the case could remain pending for months or even years until he is able to assist his attorneys with his defense.
Reporter Scott Daugherty contributed to this report.
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