Metro Weekly

Montgomery to Pursue Insanity Defense

Man accused in slaying of Deoni Jones scheduled for follow-up mental observation hearing

Deoni Jones
Deoni Jones (Photo via GLAAD.org)

Lawyers for Gary Niles Montgomery, the man accused of fatally stabbing transgender woman Deoni Jones while she was waiting at a Northeast D.C. bus stop in February 2012, informed Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin on Friday that they intend to pursue a defense of “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI), meaning that Montgomery was — and is — not mentally competent enough to understand the reasons for or the ramifications of his actions related to any interaction he might have had with the deceased on the night in question. 

Morin scheduled a further mental observation hearing on March 6 to allow both parties enough time to decide on the scope of a competency examination to determine if Montgomery is truly unfit to stand trial. Montgomery was previously found competent three times before, once after his arrest in March 2012, and again in early 2013. Later that year, after Anthony Matthews and Colle Latin-Jemibewon, Montgomery’s lawyers, filed several more motions and questioned the previous findings that their client was competent to stand trial, he was found incompetent and was ordered to be held at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, where all defendants being whose mental state is in question are held, in order to receive proper psychiatric care that could lead to “competency restoration.” Montgomery was found competent to stand trial, without objection from his defense team, for a third time in February 2014. 

At Friday’s hearing, Morin also denied a motion, previously filed in October by Montgomery’s lawyers, that would have directed lawyers for the government to discontinue “unauthorized” discussions with the medical personnel in charge of Montgomery’s treatment at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Montgomery’s lawyers have also accused the government of violating their client’s Fifth Amendment rights and requested that the court determine appropriate sanctions for what they call the government’s “unethical conduct.” Betty Ballester, a third lawyer brought onto the case in September to serve as independent counsel, informed Morin that her services would no longer be required now that Montgomery intends to pursue an NGRI defense. Since Montgomery’s lawyers began signaling they were considering pursuing such a defense in September, a previously scheduled trial date, since vacated, has not been rescheduled. The next observation hearing, in March, will determine whether the court can move forward with any such legal proceedings. 

According to witnesses who saw the attack on Jones, a man matching Montgomery’s description struck Jones in the head with a knife as she was standing at a bus stop on the corner of East Capitol Street and Sycamore Road NE on the evening of Feb. 2, 2012. The witnesses called for help, attracting the attention of a Metro Transit Police Department officer on patrol, who called for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services. Paramedics rushed Jones to Prince George’s County Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md., where she later died of her injuries early the next morning.

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