NORFOLK, Va. — New court documents obtained by 13News Now reveal a high-profile federal case could finally move forward.
According to court records, evaluators believe Eric Brown, the man accused of abducting and killing Ashanti Billie, is now competent to stand trial. Ultimately, a federal judge will make the decision.
Doctors have been treating Brown for “schizophrenia with catatonia” at a federal medical center in North Carolina. For over a year now, they’ve said he could not assist in his own defense or stand trial.
Since September of 2017, those who loved Ashanti Billie have waited for justice.
“I know God is the final say-so, but justice of the flesh is not only for him but to let everybody out there know if you're doing stuff wrong like this, justice will come your way,” Ashanti’s father Meltony told 13News Now after a hearing in June.
According to a new motion, on January 4th evaluators gave attorneys a new report and a certificate from the warden. Their current opinions is "Brown is now competent to stand trial."
“Acknowledging that the determination of Mr. Brown’s current competency and need for further restoration is ultimately a decision for the Court, the BOP evaluator opined that Mr. Brown is now competent to stand trial,” Brown’s defense attorney wrote in a document filed in federal court Tuesday.
This opinion has been a long time coming.
On December 15, 2017, the court ordered a competency evaluation for Brown. About a month later on January 19, 2018, the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a sealed report, which said Brown could not stand trial.
In June of last year, we updated you on a new report, which reaffirmed Brown's diagnosis of "schizophrenia with catatonia."
Then in November of 2018, B.O.P. officials said Brown was making process but still showed residual psychotic symptoms.
A new record received on January 4, 2019, said evaluators believe Brown is, in fact, competent to stand trial.
“My heart desires that the right thing comes out of this and justice be served,” Meltony Billie added.
The judge will need to hear arguments on this issue, so he set a competency hearing for next month. Defense attorneys said their psychiatrist will not be able to file a report and testify until at least March 27th. They revealed there are more than 1,200 pages and two videos the expert will have to review in order to move forward. Prosecutors do not oppose the continuance.
In the meantime, late Wednesday, a judge ruled Brown will remain at the federal medical center instead of being transferred to a local facility, which could have happened as part of the process.