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Attorneys for a man accused of killing an Appalachian Trail hiker in Southwest Virginia last year intend to assert an insanity defense, according to a court notice.
James Jordan at the time of his initial arrest in May 2019, when he was accused of stabbing two people on the Appalachian Trail, one fatally. Jordan’s attorneys will assert an insanity defense in his January 2021 trial, according to court documents.
James Jordan’s attorneys filed the motion Monday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon. He’s been charged in the May 2019 death of Ronald S. Sanchez Jr., 43, of Oklahoma, and the stabbing of a Canadian woman near the Wythe and Smyth county line.
Attorneys are asking the court to direct any evaluation of 31-year-old Jordan’s mental state at the time to be conducted in the least restrictive manner possible.
In a motion, attorney Lisa Lorish notes that, after his arrest last year, the judge ordered a competency evaluation. In July 2019, forensic psychologists at the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia submitted a report in which they concluded that Jordan’s psychotic symptoms were sufficiently severe to undermine his capacity to understand and participate in his legal proceedings.
After reviewing the initial report, the judge ordered that Jordan undergo a competency restoration and evaluation.
In another report, dated May 13, 2020, a physician opined that Jordan had been restored to competency. The court then scheduled a jury trial Jan. 25 to Feb. 5, 2021, according to court filings.