Question of mental competence raised again in Condon Park assault case
The trial for a man accused of carrying a deadly weapon after he reportedly tried to grab a young girl in Condon Park — which was set to start next week — is on hold after his attorney again raised questions of his mental competence.
Christian Lee Stevens, 45, allegedly followed the then 10-year-old middle school student on Sept. 23, demanding to know where she lived. As she entered a trail leading to Condon Park, he reportedly grabbed her; she was able to break free and fled to her residence.
During a preliminary hearing into the evidence, the girl said Stevens approached her and asked her repeatedly where she lived. She said that when she got onto the trail, he grabbed her behind the neck, with his fingers choking her, then grabbed and pulled her head back.
The girl testified that she hit him twice with her trumpet case and he let go, falling to the ground. She fled and later called police, providing them with a description.
Grass Valley Police Officer Clint Lovelady testified that Stevens had a hammer partially concealed under the neckline of his sweatshirt, as well as a knife that was open and easily accessible.
Stevens’ prior counsel, Assistant Public Defender Keri Klein, raised concerns about his mental state and criminal proceedings were suspended on Oct. 1.
Mental competency subsequently was ruled to have been restored and criminal proceedings were reinstated, and a new attorney was appointed after the public defender’s office declared a conflict.
At the trial readiness conference Friday, defense attorney Greg Klein told Superior Court Judge Robert Tice-Raskin that Stevens refused to acknowledge that he faces a potential sentence of six years. Klein also cited Stevens’ behavior in jail, including personal hygiene issues, as reasons he questioned his mental state.
Tice-Raskin suspended criminal proceedings and requested a psychological evaluation; Stevens is set tor return to court Feb. 18.
Klein told Tice-Raskin he believed the prosecution was being unethical in charging Stevens with the weapon charge, saying that there was no proof of intent to commit a crime with the hammer and adding, “He’s a creepy guy — but that’s not illegal.”
Deputy District Attorney Jim Phillips objected to the insinuation, but Tice-Raskin noted that prosecutorial misconduct was just an allegation at this point.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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