by: Mark Becker Updated:
CHARLOTTE - A judge ordered another psychiatric evaluation for a man accused of raping and killing his cousin in her south Charlotte apartment four years ago.
Derek Ward has bounced between jail, mental hospitals and state prison since his arrest.
He has filed papers in federal court to try to force prosecutors to take him to trial or release him.
After police arrested Ward in May 2010, he told them he had strangled his cousin to “rid her of demons.” Three months later, a psychiatrist who examined him wrote that Ward “appeared delusional.”
She said he claimed to party with lots of celebrities and that “He made statements about being able to control spaceships.”
Ward was sent to Broughton State Mental Hospital in Morganton, where he was charged with assaulting a staffer, breaking her nose and cheekbone. Since then, he has been in a medical ward at Central Prison in Raleigh. Doctors still say he is incapable of going to trial.
In the case he filed in federal court six weeks ago, Ward insists he is innocent. He also said he was being forced to get mental health treatment, and “being viciously drugged by force with a Belgian drug of torture.”
Ward repeated to a judge when he appeared at the courthouse last week that he is innocent and wants to go to trial.
“He can’t be put to trial; he can’t even plead guilty now even if he says he wants to plead guilty unless and until he’s found competent,” said legal analyst Tony Scheer.
Scheer, a former prosecutor, said if that does not happen, prosecutors may face the real possibility of dismissing the murder and rape charges, and committing Ward to a state mental hospital.
“It scares everybody to take an alleged murderer and put him into the civil instead of the criminal system, but that’s how the statute’s written. And I think it’s for a reason, so people won’t spend month after month coming back to court and talking about what they cannot do,” Scheer said.
Prosecutors may have one more chance at a trial. Ward agreed in court to undergo another test at Central Prison by the same psychiatrist who has examined him twice before.
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