Court orders judicial committal for arson suspect

Published 6:29 pm Thursday, July 27, 2017

An Elizabethton man charged with arson will be hospitalized at a mental health facility following an order issued by a Criminal Court Judge on Thursday.

Carl Raymond Perry, 35, 417 Washington Avenue, Elizabethton, appeared in Carter County Criminal Court on Thursday. The Public Defender’s Office, which represents Perry in the case where he is charged with arson and vandalism, filed a petition with Criminal Court last week asking for judicial hospitalization for Perry.

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According to court documents, General Sessions Court Judge Keith Bowers Jr., who is presiding over the case, ordered Perry to undergo a competency evaluation to determine if he was competent to stand trial.

“After completion of the competency evaluation, the staff at Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute is of the opinion that the defendant’s condition is such that he is not capable of adequately assisting in his defense in a court of law, and that the defendant meets the standards for judicial commitment to a mental health institute pursuant to the provisions of (state law),” the petition said.

In court on Thursday, Assistant Public Defender Melanie Sellers asked the court to grant the petition despite objections by Perry.

“Mr. Perry really does not want to go to the hospital, and I understand that, but I really feel we don’t have a choice,” Sellers said.

Sellers informed Judge Stacy Street that General Sessions Court proceedings in the arson case are at a standstill because of the mental health evaluation finding that Perry is not competent to stand trial or assist his attorney in his defense.

Perry asked Street to not send him to the hospital, stating he did not want a lawyer in the case and that he would not “survive” if he was sent back to the mental health facility. Perry said he had not even been to court on the charge against him.

“You’ve been to court, but you’ve not had a hearing because you have not been deemed competent to stand trial,” Street told Perry.

Street said based on the findings of the evaluation report and two certificates of need completed by two different doctors he was granting the petition for judicial hospitalization.

The charges against Perry stem from an incident in February of this year when officers of the Elizabethton Police Department responded to a 911 call about a disorderly man armed with an ax attempting to set a home on fire. The home belonged to Perry’s father and officers reported finding damage to a bedroom door in the house as well as piles of ash on the kitchen stove and an oil lamp that appeared to have been used to set fire to an area of the kitchen table.