Mental competency of woman in anti-Asian assault questioned

LAS VEGAS — A prosecutor raised questions Tuesday about the mental competency of a 57-year-old woman who is jailed on racial bias charges and other allegations after being accused of making anti-Asian comments and striking a shopper’s young son at an upscale Las Vegas Strip retail center.

The woman, Shelly Ann Hill, told a judge that she didn’t understand how she could be charged with a hate crime, asked to be released from jail without bail, then moments later pleaded no contest in a separate misdemeanor trespassing case for which she was sentenced to time served.

“Am I going home?” she asked the judge.

Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia told Deputy Clark County District Attorney Leah Beverly that it will be up to Hill’s public defenders to seek an evaluation of whether Hill understands the charges against her.

Hill also faces felony child abuse and misdemeanor battery charges of striking the 6-year-old boy, who is Asian, on July 5 at The Shops at Crystals. He did not suffer any visible injuries, police said. Hill was arrested five days later.

The boy’s mother posted cellphone footage to TikTok last week showing part of the confrontation. It has received more than a million views on the social media app.

“She punched my six-year-old in the neck while yelling racist, anti-Asian things,” the shopper wrote on TikTok.

It comes amid a wave of violence against Asian Americans nationwide since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S.

Hill has an extensive history of misdemeanor cases involving trespassing, obstruction, battery, vagrancy, larceny and theft allegations. Court records show she has undergone competency exams in several state court cases since April 2018.

In March, records show she could not provide a home address to qualify for electronic monitoring in a case involving the theft of a set of headphones. She pleaded no contest May 18 to petty larceny and was released after serving 81 days in jail.

The judge kept bail for Hill at $10,000 pending a July 27 court hearing on evidence in the bias case. She told Hill that if she’s freed, she cannot go to the Las Vegas Strip area.

Bryan Cox, a deputy public defender who represented Hill on Tuesday, did not immediately respond to a message about Hill’s competency and criminal history.

The mom who posted the video did not immediately respond Tuesday to a private TikTok message seeking comment.

Tang reported from Phoenix.