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Judge Rules Man Accused Of Attacking Foreign Exchange Student Not Competent To Stand Trial
Updated April 13, 2016 6:09 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(NASHVILLE) - Brown County Judge Judith Stewart ruled that the man who attacked a foreign exchange student with a hatchet in downtown hatchet is not competent to stand trial.

Judge Stewart ruled 59-year-old Dana Ericson doesn't understand the charges against him and can't assist his lawyer in his own defense.

For 90 days, Ericson will be committed to the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction in an attempt to restore his competency.

Deputy Prosecutor James T. Roberts says Ericson, who is charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery causing serious injury will stand trial - but after treatment.

"He'll be able to reach that point again with appropriate treatment," said Dr. George Parker during the April 11 hearing. "Mr. Ericson is a bright person."

Ericson told Judge Steward the jail is a "toxic place" and that he was being tortured by jail staff who were aware of his thoughts and who were "projecting thoughts into his mind."

He has been held in solitary confinement since the February 18 attack.

Ericson asked Judge Stewart to move him to a hospital to receive help saying "I am a sick man."

Ericson's jury trial was to start May 25. It will now be postponed for at least 90 days.

Earlier Ericson pleaded not guilty to striking 18-year-old Yue Zhang of China twice in the back with a hatchet. He told police he was trying to bring about an "ethnic cleansing" and hated Asians and intended to kill the teen.

Zhang was struck while taking photos for a high school class near Trolly's BBQ in downtown Nashville. Police say Ericson ran across Van Buren Street near the courthouse and hit her in the back two times with a hatchet. Zhang's thick coat prevented her injury from being fatal.

She was treated at a Columbus hospital for a deep, 2-inch deep laceration that measured about an inch wide near her spine and was released.

If Ericson is convicted of attempted murder, the maximum sentence is 40 years.

That sentence could be enhanced to life in prison if the Federal Bureau of Investigation determines that the attack was a hate crime. Then, Ericson would be tried in federal court, and could be convicted of attempted murder with a hate crime enhancement. Indiana is one of the few states that do not classify acts as hate crimes for criminal or sentence-enhancement purposes.

The ruling on Ericson's competency will not affect the FBI's investigation.

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