Man accused in 3 homicides found unable to assist in defense

June 2, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A judge has ordered a Portland, Oregon, man accused of three shooting deaths this year be committed to the state hospital for mental health treatment after finding he is unable to help in his own defense.

Joseph Banks was living in a Portland group home for adults with mental illness when police say he fatally shot the men in what investigators suspect were random attacks, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Under state law, the hospital may keep patients who are under a so-called “aid and assist order” for the period of time equal to the maximum sentence the court could impose if the defendant had been convicted.

Circuit Judge Katharine von Ter Stegge ruled after reviewing a report from psychologist Tasha Phillips. Banks’ defense lawyers had asked her to evaluate him.

The judge shared the psychologist’s finding with Banks in court Wednesday.

“She thinks based on your medical history, or conversations with you, that you are at the moment, not in the best place to assist your lawyers in your defense. Do you understand that? And do you agree with that?”

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Banks responded, “I don’t know,” but then nodded that he understood.

The judge told him when he is determined to be able to help his lawyers, the case will proceed.

Earlier this year, Banks pleaded not guilty to a 15-count indictment charging him in the deaths of Isaiah Hurst, 39; Jeff Ramirez, 35; and Mark Johnson, 55.