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Virginia Beach man competent to stand trial in Ashanti Billie kidnapping, doctor says
Virginian-Pilot - 1/24/2019
Jan. 23--A Navy veteran charged with abducting a 19-year-old woman from a military base in 2017 before she was found dead in North Carolina is competent to stand trial, according to a prison psychologist.
It will be up to a federal judge, however, to decide if Eric Brian Brown actually is capable of understanding the charges against him. A hearing is set for Feb. 27 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk but the defense wants it moved until late March.
Brown -- who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia -- is charged with one count each of kidnapping resulting in death, assault resulting in serious bodily injury and theft. If convicted he could face the death penalty.
Federal prosecutors believe Brown kidnapped Ashanti BillieSept. 18, 2017, outside a sandwich shop at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek. She worked at the restaurant while also attending The Art Institute of Virginia Beach.
Following his arrest, state prosecutors filed murder charges in Charlotte, N.C., where Billie's body was found Sept. 29, 2017 near Brown's childhood home. The murder warrant remains unserved.
Brown's federal case has been on hold the past year amid questions regarding his mental state.
Last January, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled Brown wasn't able to assist in his defense and ordered him to receive treatment. In June, the judge ruled prison staff could forcibly medicate him following a series of incidents.
Earlier this month, attorneys received a report from the Bureau of Prisons, according to a motion filed Tuesday by the defense. An evaluator believed Brown was competent.
At the request of the prosecution and defense, Jackson ruled Wednesday Brown could stay at a federal prison hospital in North Carolina until the eve of his competency hearing in Norfolk -- whenever that might be.
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