A Nashville man doesn’t understand the charges against him and can’t assist his attorney in his own defense, a judge has ruled.
That makes Dana Ericson, 59, incompetent to stand trial at this time for allegedly attacking a foreign exchange student with a hatchet in downtown Nashville, Judge Judith Stewart said.
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 said it is likely that Ericson will eventually stand trial for the charges against him, which include attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery causing serious injury.
“He’ll be able to reach that point again with appropriate treatment,” Dr. George Parker testified during Monday’s hearing.
Two doctors — Parker and Dr. Don Olive — interviewed and evaluated Ericson and both concluded that he was not competent.
Ericson is accused of attacking an 18-year-old Brown County High School student from China, Zhang “Z” Yue, with a hatchet in February while she was taking pictures for a high school photography class.
Ericson admitted to police that he struck Yue because she is Asian. He said he was attempting ethnic cleansing and called himself a white supremacist.
Yue was treated at Columbus Regional Hospital for a wound that hit close to her spinal column. She was released that evening to her host family.
Ericson’s jury trial was to start May 25. It will now be postponed for at least 90 days.
Jail Commander Tony Sciscoe told the court that Ericson has been in a padded cell, wearing a suicide smock.
“I feel each day he is getting worse. He is yelling out continuously and nothing he says makes sense,” Sciscoe wrote March 4.
Both hands were cuffed as Ericson sat next to his public defender, Jacob Moore.
Ericson has been held in solitary confinement since the Feb. 18 attack.
Olive said the probability of Ericson regaining competency is high after he undergoes three to six months of treatment.
Monday’s ruling on Ericson’s competency will not affect the FBI’s investigation into the attack, spokeswoman Cathy Burton said.