State v. Slye, 53048-1-II

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Writing for the CourtLEE, C.J.
PartiesSTATE OF WASHINGTON, Appellant, v. AKEEM ISRAEL SLYE, Respondent.
Docket Number53048-1-II
Decision Date22 December 2020



No. 53048-1-II

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

December 22, 2020



The State appeals the trial court's order dismissing charges against Akeem I. Slye without prejudice. The State argues the trial court erred by finding that the State lacked a good faith basis to believe that Slye would be able to be restored to competency when it refiled the criminal charges against Slye. The State also argues the trial court erred by concluding no further restoration periods were available in this case when that issue was not a subject of the motion before the trial court.

Because the State did not have a good faith basis to refile the information, the trial court did not err in dismissing the charges without prejudice. Therefore, whether the trial court erred by making conclusions regarding further restoration periods is moot. We affirm.


In January 2018, the State charged Slye with first degree rape of a child, two counts of first degree child molestation, and attempted first degree child molestation. The trial court ordered a competency evaluation based on Slye's developmental disability.

Dr. Ray Hendrickson conducted Slye's competency evaluation. Dr. Hendrickson diagnosed Slye with a mild intellectual disability, language disorder, and social (pragmatic) communication disorder. Dr. Hendrickson noted that Slye had previously been evaluated by forensic staff at the Child Study and Treatment Center (CSTC) in 2014 and 2015 based on pending juvenile court charges. After a 90-day restoration period, CSTC staff concluded that restoration was not likely and that Slye was not likely to benefit from further competency restoration treatment.

Throughout his assessment, Dr. Hendrickson noted that Slye did not know many terms associated with criminal charges, but after an explanation was able to recall some of the information. Slye also presented with only a limited understanding of court personnel and criminal trials. Generally, Slye exhibited limited ability to meaningfully interact with his attorney, understand his attorney's advice, or ask questions about things he did not understand. Based on his evaluation of Slye, Dr. Hendrickson opined,

While Mr. Slye may have a limited ability to have &amp factual understanding of his charges and to a lesser extent, court proceedings, his ability to have a rational understanding of court proceedings was significantly limited. Due to his continuing cognitive limitations, he would likely be unable to work with his attorney to assist in his defense
In conclusion, Mr. Slye presents with symptoms of a mental disease or defect that significantly impair his ability to have a rational understanding of the court proceedings he faces. These symptoms also significantly impair his ability to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding. He would likely be unable to work with and assist his attorney in his defense

Clerk's Papers (CP) at 24 (emphasis in original).

Dr. Hendrickson had "considerable doubt" about whether restoration treatment would result in any improvement of Slye's condition. CP at 24. Dr. Hendrickson explained,

I note that after a 90-day restoration period at CSTC in 2015, he exhibited no significant improvement. Restoration procedures at [Western State Hospital] WSH would be essentially identical to CSTC procedures, and would include education about court proceedings and working with his attorney.

CP at 24. However, Dr. Hendrickson recognized that because Slye had matured since his last restoration treatment, it was possible that "with repetitious explanation of concepts, he could improve to the level of being able to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding." CP at 24.

The trial court found that Slye was not competent to stand trial. The court ordered a 90-day competency restoration treatment period.

In July 2018, Dr. Johnathan Sharrette performed another competency evaluation following Slye's restoration treatment period. Dr. Sharrette's observations of Syle's understanding of the legal system were consistent with Dr. Hendrickson's observations. Dr. Sharrette opined that Slye was not competent to stand trial. Dr. Sharrette also opined that further restoration treatment was not recommended. Dr. Sharrette explained,

[Slye's] deficits are not amenable to treatment with psychiatric medication; they are due to cognitive limitation. Additional time and effort are not likely to increase his understanding of competency-related information. His language and intellectual deficits are long-standing and well-documented. After approximately fifteen years of special education and assistance, his language deficits persist, and will not likely improve in the limited amount of time offered by the law. In speaking with his psychiatrist, there is no available psychiatric treatment available that would improve his cognitive or verbal skills.

CP at 149.

The trial court found that Slye continued to be incompetent to stand trial. The court also found that Slye was unlikely to regain competency and further treatment was not likely to restore competency. As a result, the court dismissed the charges without prejudice. Following dismissal, Slye was civilly committed at WSH.

In November 2018, the State refiled the information, charging Slye with first degree rape of a child, two counts of first degree child molestation, and attempted first degree child molestation. The State included a supplemental declaration of probable cause with the refiled information. The State declared,

These charges were dismissed on July 9, 2018 after the court found the defendant incompetent. The court referred the defendant to Western State Hospital to be evaluated for civil commitment pursuant to RCW 71.05, as required by statute. The defendant has been at Western State Hospital since then. The State was notified on September 21, 2018 that the defendant could qualify for temporary unescorted leaves into the community and that the State would receive 10 days' notice prior to any authorized leave. The State did not receive that particular notice, however, on October 8, 2018 the State was informed that although the defendant's civil commitment under RCW 71.05 does not expire March, 2019, the defendant does not have a mental health diagnosis and is not on medication, therefore he does not meet the criteria to remain at Western State and Western State would be moving toward discharging him into the community prior to the expiration of the civil commitment period. ... As Western State feels that it does not have a basis for keeping the defendant through his civil commitment period, and because the defendant could be released into the community very soon, the State is refiling these charges.

CP at 179.

The trial court ordered another competency evaluation. In December 2018, Dr. Sharrette completed a new competency evaluation for Slye. Dr. Sharrette's opinions after completing the competency evaluation was substantially similar to the outcome of Slye's two prior evaluations. As to whether restoration treatment should be attempted, Dr. Sharrette opined,

Should the Court find that Mr. Slye is not competent to stand trial, inpatient psychiatric treatment is typically recommended toward improving his condition so his competency can be restored. However, Mr. Slye has undergone a competency restoration period earlier this year, as well as in 2015 at the Child Study and Treatment Center. After the 90-day restoration period at CSTC in 2015 there was no significant improvement in his competency; this was again the case for his most recent 90-day restoration period as well. The restoration process would again focus on education regarding court proceedings as well as how to work with his attorney. His limitations are cognitive in nature, and cannot be improved with medication. It is doubtful that another restoration period would have any significant effect on Mr. Slye's competency. Of course, it is ultimately the Court's decision as to restoration.

CP at 251.

A few weeks later, Dr. Sharrette filed an addendum in which he considered additional information regarding Slye's work toward completing his high school education. Dr. Sharrette noted that Slye was completing worksheets in order to obtain credit toward high school graduation. However, the work was being completed under an Individual Education Plan, which allowed Slye to receive credit for classwork based on effort, time on task, and attendance, rather than mastery of any subject area. As a result, Slye was primarily completing fourth grade level worksheets and often got many of the items on the worksheet wrong. Dr. Sharrette noted that the additional information did not change his opinions on competency.

In January 2019, Slye filed a motion to dismiss the charges because the State lacked a good faith basis to refile the information. Slye included an email from Dr. Paula van Pul, one of Slye's psychologists at WSH, to the State, in which Dr. van Pul stated:

I talked to the ward psychologist and Mr. Slye today. Mr. Slye is reported not to be a behavioral problem on the ward and he is working on academic work in an effort to get his high school diploma.
Mr. Slye is reported to be at baseline and as you are aware he does not take any medications nor has he been diagnosed with a mental illness. In speaking to him, it is apparent that he has an intellectual disability and that his verbal comprehension is limited. He has difficulty with concepts that have more than one simple idea. When processing information he requires simple concepts and his thinking is concrete in nature. He does not do well with any questions or concepts that are abstract.

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