The final verdict for citys first murder of 2009 is not likely to be resolved before years end, Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Donald M. Haddock ruled last Thursday.
After three months of restoration services, the final suspect a 17-year-old Alexandria male facing first-degree murder, robbery and two weapons charges has been ordered to continue the program to improve his mental competence in order to stand trial for the January 17 murder of Alexandria Yellow Cab driver Khalil Siddiqi.
Haddock ordered that the therapy, aimed at improving his cognitive abilities and competence to assist in his own defense, continue until mid-January 2010 at which time an update on the case will be due.
The 17-year-old, being tried as an adult for a crime he allegedly committed at age 16, is now taking anti-anxiety medication and has undergone treatments that utilize audio and video media and involve family members, according to his attorney Melinda Douglas.
Douglas rejected the idea that the defense was trying to prolong the status quo by continuing the restoration process, but that at least several more months would likely be necessary for success.
The issue that [restoration therapists] confront is a young man with severe documented learning disabilities that go back to early childhood, Douglas said, explaining her clients hurdles to gain competence. He also suffers from particular impediments in terms of intelligence and in verbal and expressive skills.
Its not like were sitting around doing nothing and just waiting for something to happen, she said. These people are meeting with him several times throughout the week theyre trained in counseling, theyre trained in restoration services, they know when someones making progress and when theyre not.
Douglas said that, according to experts in the field, the normal course of restoration under these sorts of circumstances is up to six months.
Prosecutors asked the judge to preserve their interests during a prolonged restorative process for the defendant by allowing for an outside clinical psychologist to perform additional evaluations.
Court proceedings Thursday indicated that an evaluation from a psychologist outside of restoration services would occur when therapists agree that the defendant is finally competent to assist in his own defense.
The half-year mark from the original September ruling is early March.