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Inmate's mental status in question

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Anthony Monda

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- An inmate who has tried to commit suicide more than once while in jail must undergo a mental examination before sentencing can occur.

Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. took the rare move Friday and ordered Anthony Scott Monda sent to Western State Hospital for an evaluation to determine competency to receive a sentence.

Monda, 21, of 230 Ash Hollow Drive, Winchester, faces sentencing for an April 20 purse-snatching. Monda pleaded guilty to robbery Nov. 15. The court also could sentence Monda for a first-offense of possession of oxycodone, to which he had pleaded guilty Dec. 21, 2010.

Monda, wearing shackles and chains, appeared in court with his attorney, Kathleen Griffin, of the public defender's office. Griffin renewed her motion for an order to have Monda evaluated for competency. The attorney told Wetsel she visited her client at Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center to find him bound in a special jacket used by the facility "for his own safety."

Monda tried at least twice to commit suicide while incarcerated, Griffin said. The jail then put her client on "suicide watch," the attorney added.

While judges frequently order defendants to undergo mental evaluations to determine competency to stand trial or aid in their own defense, Wetsel and the prosecutors noted the circumstances appeared different in this case. Monda already had pleaded guilty to his charge after the court determined his competency to stand trial or aid in his own defense had been restored through treatment.

Wetsel had to research the issue before concluding that he could order the similar evaluation prior to the defendant's sentencing.

The court had, on Sept. 16, determined Monda lacked capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist his attorney in his own defense, according to Griffin's motion. Clinical psychologist David Rawls examined Monda for competency at Western State Hospital and the court scheduled sentencing for Jan. 10, according to Griffin. The defense asked the court to continue sentencing to Friday.

"Defendant is experiencing psychiatric problems which render him unable to work with his attorney and assist in any meaningful way with his defense," Griffin states in her motion.

Wetsel scheduled a hearing on Monda's mental health status for April 10.

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