Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 26, 2013

Mental exam ordered for man charged in pot case

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — A judge has ordered a Lawrence County man indicted earlier this month on marijuana and firearms charges undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

In an order entered Thursday, U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning said he found “reasonable cause” to believe Steven A. Davis, 39, of Blaine, “may be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent” as defined by federal law.

Davis was indicted April 11 by a federal grand jury sitting in Covington on charges of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and being a drug user in possession of a firearm. He could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted.

The alleged offenses occurred Dec. 7 in Lawrence County. The indictment alleges Davis was in possession of an unspecified quantity of marijuana he planned to distribute, and of four handguns, along with clips and ammunition for them. The indictment seeks forfeiture of the weapons.

An indictment is a formal accusation of a crime and does not establish guilt.

According to court records, Davis’ court-appointed attorney, Michael Curtis, raised concerns about his client’s mental health at a detention hearing on Tuesday and moved for a competency evaluation. Prosecutors didn’t object to the request.

In his ruling, Bunning said “the nature of the alleged criminal conduct,” along with the need for a “thorough examination” of Davis’ mental state, had led him to conclude Davis should committed to custody in order to determine whether he is competent to proceed.

Bunning ordered that Davis undergo a psychological examination and that be committed to the custody of the U.S. Attorney General for a placement in a facility where the exam can be performed. The judge stipulated the commitment be “for a reasonable period of item,” no longer than 45 days, unless directed by the court.

Bunning also directed Davis’ examiners’ to file a report with the court on his mental condition as soon as possible after the completion of the exam. He also set aside Davis’ scheduled trial date of June 3, along with a pretrial conference scheduled for May 13.

Davis is lodged in the Carter County Detention Center.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.