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story.lead_photo.caption Raymond Lee Plumlee

FAYETTEVILLE -- A man accused of shooting and wounding a Washington County deputy almost two years ago suffers from schizophrenia and couldn't conform his behavior at the time of the incident, according to doctors at the Arkansas State Hospital.

Raymond Plumlee, 26, of Springdale was charged in connection to shooting at several law enforcement officers with a 12-gauge shotgun March 15, 2016. Lt. Tion Augustine was shot in the hip, police said. Augustine had surgery to repair a shattered ball joint and returned to duty.

Criminal Responsibility Evaluations

An examination of a defendant’s mental state and capacities at the time of the alleged offense. The evaluations are typically requested when there are concerns the defendant’s alleged criminal behaviors may have been the result of a mental disorder and the defendant was not criminally responsible. Individuals found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect are typically acquitted of their criminal charges. Depending on the nature of the charges and jurisdiction, the defendant may instead be committed to a hospital or other facility pending an evaluation of dangerousness or violence risk.

Source: Staff report

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Plumlee is charged with three counts of attempted capital murder. He pleaded not guilty in April 2016.

It's the third time Plumlee was found unfit to proceed. In November 2016, doctors said he had schizophrenia with multiple episodes and was in an acute episode when he was examined. Plumlee lacked the capacity to assist in his defense and to understand the proceedings against him, according to an evaluation report. Plumlee was showing signs of paranoia and having auditory hallucinations.

A follow-up in August 2017 found Plumlee improving but unfit for trial.

Lacy Willett Matthews, a doctor at the State Hospital, examined Plumlee earlier this month to determine if he understood what he was doing when he shot Augustine.

Matthews found Plumlee could understand the proceedings against him and assist in his defense. She also found his state of mind at the time of the shooting rendered him incapable of appreciating the criminality of his conduct and incapable of conforming his conduct to the requirements of the law, according to a report filed Tuesday.

"Mr. Plumlee was acutely psychotic at the time of the alleged offense due to symptoms of his mental illness, schizophrenia," Matthews said in her report. "During the time frame of the offense, he experienced auditory hallucinations, ideas of reference (i.e., believing that his Xbox was talking to him, believing that a stranger who helped him with his truck referenced his connection to the Freemasons), and paranoia."

Plumlee has been treated for psychosis since at least 2009, according to the report.

Typically, defendants found unfit for trial are involuntarily committed to the State Hospital or treated to restore fitness, according to prosecutors. If that's unsuccessful, they are usually found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed for treatment.

Prosecutor Matt Durrett said doctors at the State Hospital were able to restore Plumlee's fitness to understand the proceedings and assist in his defense before doing the criminal responsibility portion of their examination.

"They've found him fit to proceed, but this time they're saying at the time of the offense, he couldn't distinguish right from wrong, couldn't recognize the criminality of his conduct," Durrett said. "So, this is kind of the step before an acquittal for that reason of mental disease. I don't want to put the cart before the horse, but that's kind of where it normally goes from there."

Durrett said he plans to review the case and report and talk with the doctor in the next few weeks before determining if a remaining course of action is available to him, including commitment.

On that day in March, Plumlee's mother called law enforcement officials and said her son was psychotic and suicidal. She said Plumlee had a shotgun and he was going to die if police came to the home, according to a police report.

About five deputies and Fayetteville police officers went to the home and heard multiple gunshots coming from the woods in back of the house.

Police walked toward the rear of a house on Howard Porter Road and heard more shots as they reached a fence. Plumlee shot multiple times at police through bushes and hit Augustine, according to the report.

Deputies arrested Plumlee and found a shotgun and several spent shells.

NW News on 02/22/2018

Print Headline: Doctors report man not criminally responsible in shooting incident

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