MADISON — Rashad Riddick will stand trial on capital murder charges in the 2011 killings of three relatives, a judge ruled Monday.
Proceedings against Riddick, 26, of Newport News, halted last August, when Riddick battered his defense attorney in open court, prompting questions about his competency and a prolonged stay at a state-run mental health facility in Dinwiddie County.
Judge Daniel Bouton on Monday said testimony last month from Riddick's doctors at Central State Hospital demonstrated that Riddick is capable of assisting in his own defense.
Riddick has yet to submit to a mental health evaluation and has sent the court letters asserting that Bouton and defense attorneys Joseph Flood and Steven Rosenfield are conspiring to deprive him of his constitutional rights.
"Mental illness in and of itself does not necessarily render a defendant unable to stand trial," Bouton said. "The question that the court has to resolve is whether [Riddick] has the capacity to do it. ... It is a very difficult issue for the court to resolve."
Riddick filed a flurry of hand-written motions seeking to represent himself in the case, always signing the letters with a crown sketched over his first name. Mental health professionals hired by his defense team diagnosed Riddick with a delusional disorder fueled by a situation-specific paranoia, according to court testimony last month.
Defense experts said that in Riddick's case, the paranoia is triggered by court proceedings stemming from the Feb. 11, 2011, shooting deaths of his uncle James Jackson, 55; Jackson’s wife, Karen Lee Jackson, 53; and her daughter, Chante Latrice Davis, 26. The killings occurred in a farmhouse off U.S. 15.
"The defendant doesn't have any documented history of mental illness," Bouton said Monday. "A lot of time has passed since the issue was first and justly raised."
Riddick's current and former wards testified last month about situations in which he cooperated with authorities when it served his interests. In one case, Riddick filed a complaint against jail workers about an assault investigators determined did not take place. In another, he agreed to stop physically lashing out at other patients and mental health workers if his doctors allowed him out of his restraints, according to testimony.
Flood and Rosenfield objected to Bouton's ruling. The judge noted Riddick's "lack of cooperation" and emphasized that the decision was premised on a factual determination about their client's capacity to participate and not his track record.
A cadre of Central Virginia Regional Jail guards and sheriff's deputies flanked Riddick throughout Monday's hearing. He mostly stared straight ahead and occasionally fidgeted with a white envelope.
Prosecutor George Webb and Riddick's defense attorneys declined to comment after the hearing. Riddick is scheduled to be arraigned on 11 felony charges in October.