Kalamazoo student accused of assaulting teacher found competent for trial

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The case regarding the student accused of choking a teacher at Kalamazoo Central High School on February 6th is moving forward. Kalamazoo County Family Court Judge Julie Phillips stated in court Friday morning that he has been found competent for trial.

Judge Phillips reviewed and discussed all three competency reports that were completed in the case beginning with the first one conducted by the juvenile home’s psychiatrist Danielle Williams. Williams testified about her report which was the first one completed back in May. She stated the teen would not be able to help his lawyer during court proceedings and that he may struggle in an adult setting. She said she's witnessed him shut down, show signs of a mental illness and that he exhibited depressive symptoms. She ultimately determined that he was unfit for trial.

Judge Phillips reviewed and read aloud the other two reports performed by psychologists who stated that the student was able to give a detailed account of the February 6 incident, in which he allegedly choked a teacher after a confrontation over an ID card. Both doctors indicated that he had conduct disorder and that he has been verbally aggressive toward adults.  They both stated that he is more than competent to stand trail. Judge Phillps said she found the two additional reports to be thorough.

“I think [the student] has specifically articulated what happened,” Judge Phillips said. “I think he does understand the role of all of the players. He does not rise, according to the professionals, of any mental health diagnosis. And so for that reason I am going to find him competent to stand trial.”

The family said they disagree. They filled the courtroom and felt that the student's emotional disability and I.E.P should have weight in the court’s decision. Father Earnest Gathing Jr. said the full police report should have been read, especially the part where it states that the teacher pushed him.

“It’s far from over,” Gathing Jr. said in an interview after the hearing. “We have to prove not just now his mental health issue, which it should've been acknowledged from the  beginning, his I.E.P. and the disability. But now we also got to prove his complete innocence.”

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