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Local man claims withdrawal led him to assault deputy

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By Alex Bridges-abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A Frederick County man claims medication withdrawal may have caused him to assault a deputy after shooting an AK-47 in a wooded area last April.

David Dwayne Kulha, 49, of 793 McDonald Road, Winchester, appeared in Frederick County Circuit Court on Monday with his attorney, William A. "Beau" Bassler.

Authorities have charged Kulha with assaulting a law enforcement officer and possession of a gun by a person convicted of a non-violent felony on April 5. He also is appealing a conviction from General District Court for misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm.

Judge John Prosser granted Bassler's motion to have Kulha undergo a psychiatric examination to determine his client's "mental responsibility" at the time of the alleged offense. Prosser also granted Bassler's request to have his client evaluated to determine competency to stand trial.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Andrew Robbins did not object to the motions.

A grand jury indicted Kulha in August on felony counts of possession of an AK-47 Poly Tech semiautomatic rifle and of assault and battery against Deputy J.K. Pyles.

The deputy responded to the 300 block of Flegal Lane for a person drinking alcohol and discharging a firearm, according to a criminal complaint.

A resident told the deputy Kulha was near his home shooting an AK-47 across the water and bullets were going into the woods, the complaint states.

Pyles and another deputy found Kulha's pickup and saw him walking toward the vehicle.

The deputies ordered Kulha to stop but he instead started walking faster, according to Pyles.

"Subject was not willing to stop, show hands or cooperate," Pyles states. "I then got in front of Kulha to stop him. I tried grabbing his hand and arm, Kulha then struck me in the left side of my face with his right hand. I then took Kulha to the ground. Deputy Foster had to pepper spray Kulha to get him detained."

When interviewed after being read his Miranda rights, Kulha said he was shooting at trees in the water and not any people, the complaint states. Pyles later recovered an AK-47 from the truck with several rounds of ammunition and one round in the chamber.

Kulha had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 at the time of the incident, the complaint states.
Bassler states in the motion his client suffers from several mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and anxiety.

The defendant had been prescribed Seroquel but was instructed a month prior to the alleged incident to stop taking the medication, which can cause symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, according to Bassler.

"Seroquel withdrawal symptoms are possible as the brain adjusts to reduction in the medication," Bassler states. "Symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, insomnia, and symptoms [of] bipolar disorder or schizophrenia."

Kulha remains free on a $10,000 secured bond.

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