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Hearing dropped after jailed defendant refuses to appear

By Joe Beck

WOODSTOCK -- General district court Judge Amy Tisinger scrapped a preliminary hearing Friday for a Toms Brook man charged with armed burglary after the defendant refused to appear in court.

Tisinger scheduled another hearing for 10:15 a.m. July 18 to determine what to do with Jonathan David Funkhouser who, Tisinger said, told jailers he did not want to travel across town from the Shenandoah County jail to the general district courtroom.

Tisinger also granted a motion by Funkhouser's attorney, Michael A. Araj of Harrisonburg, to have a mental health evaluation performed to determine the defendant's fitness to participate in court proceedings.

Tisinger told Araj that she could have found his client in contempt of court for refusing to appear, but decided to forgo making any decisions about the case until at least July 18.

"I'm not going to do anything unless he's willing to be here," Tisinger said of Funkhouser.

Authorities accuse Funkhouser, 32, of walking into a house where he believed his ex-girlfriend would soon arrive to care for an elderly resident.

A criminal complaint against Funkhouser states that his ex-girlfriend was "scared for her life" because of Funkhouser's past behavior toward her.

The complaint states that a sheriff's deputy found an 81/2-inch knife on Funkhouser at the time he was arrested.

Funkhouser is charged with armed burglary and several misdemeanors linked to the incident involving the woman.

Funkhouser also was charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer earlier this month after two women members of the jail staff, one a deputy and one a civilian, accused him of attempting to grab them in separate incidents. No one was injured.

Tisinger explained to Araj that she was dropping Friday's preliminary hearing out of her desire to avoid any struggle that might ensue if she ordered deputies to bring Funkhouser to court against his will.

"I do not want the jailers put in a situation like that," Tisinger said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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