Criminal Law Triple homicide suspect ruled incompetent to stand trial

Published on March 9th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman


Triple homicide suspect ruled incompetent to stand trial

A Dinwiddie County man with a history of mental illness who is suspected of killing his father and two Chesterfield County women in early January has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial and likely will be sent to Central State Hospital for rehabilitation.

Herbert C. Bland Jr., 23, who faces first-degree murder charges in the Jan. 7 fatal shootings of Barbara Fassett, 65, and her physically disabled daughter, Elizabeth Fassett, 42, was declared incompetent by Dr. Evan Nelson, a forensic psychologist, after he performed a court-ordered mental health examination of the suspect.

As a result, a Chesterfield judge is expected to formally rule Bland incompetent and order he be sent to Central State Hospital for treatment in an effort to restore his competency to stand trial.

Typically, after a defendant is sent to be mentally rehabilitated, a status hearing will be held 90 days later to check on his progress. If Bland’s competency can be restored, his case will go forward and a preliminary hearing on the charges will be held.

A judge ordered Bland Jr. to receive the treatment and to take medications that are used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, according to court records.

The judge dismissed the assault charge against Bland in September after Bland complied with the court’s directives for two years and received favorable progress reports from his psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Walid Fawaz of Virginia South Psychiatric and Family Services, wrote at the time in letters to the court that Bland had complied with his medication and appointments, was showing “good progress” and “not showing psychotic symptoms as he has in the past.”

But Fawaz wrote that Bland would need to continue on his medications for at least two years, as well as “psychiatric follow-ups.” But after the judge dismissed Bland’s case Sept. 14, he did not continue receiving treatment on his own.

The Fassetts were found dead at 5:45 p.m. Jan. 7 after a UPS driver making a delivery to their home around noon found the front storm door shattered and one of the women’s bodies just inside the threshold. He called police and the responding officer found the second woman’s body elsewhere in the house.

From there, police say Bland made the 20-minute drive to his family’s house in the 2000 block of Harris Drive in Sutherland, where his father was fatally wounded about 1 p.m. in an exchange of gunfire during a dispute. Bland Jr. was wounded.

When Chesterfield detectives traveled to the Bland family home in Dinwiddie, they discovered the same type of vehicle parked in the rear of the residence. Police believe Bland Jr. and Elizabeth Fassett had once been romantically involved, although the relationship had become abusive and apparently ended some time ago.

Dinwiddie authorities have not formally charged Bland Jr. in the death of his father.

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Source: Times Dispatch “Triple homicide suspect ruled incompetent to stand trial,” March 7, 2013.

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