WOODSTOCK – A judge has ordered a Shenandoah County man accused of abducting and attacking a woman in February to undergo treatment to restore his competency to stand trial.
Phillip Houston Moore appeared Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court by video from the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail. Moore, 49, of Maurertown, stands charged with two counts of abduction, two counts of domestic assault, three counts of damaging a telephone line to prevent a 911 call and one count each of malicious assault resulting in injury, strangulation, fleeing law enforcement and obstruction of justice. A grand jury indicted Moore on the charges Oct. 10.
Peter K. McDermott represents Moore as his court-appointed attorney. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Austin Hovermale is prosecuting the case.
Judge Clark A. Ritchie ordered Moore to undergo further treatment to restore his competency to stand trial. The order came after Moore said a doctor determined he is competent to stand trial and made repeated claims that McDermott has lied and taken actions detrimental to his case. Moore asked Ritchie for new counsel and went to so far as to say he wanted to fire McDermott. Ritchie told Moore that he could not fire his court-appointed counsel and that only a judge could do so.
Ritchie said he interpreted comments about Moore made by clinical psychologist David Rawls to mean that the defendant is not competent to stand trial.
Moore showed documents he said came from a doctor working under Rawls who determined at that time he was competent to stand trial. Ritchie pointed out that Rawls’ more recent letter indicates the defendant is not competent to stand trial, even if at an earlier time a doctor found him competent.
Rawls noted in a letter dated Nov. 9 and filed with the court that he evaluated Moore on May 8 and determined at that time he was not competent to stand trial. Moore was ordered to undergo treatment at Western State Hospital for competency restoration.
Rawls interviewed Moore at the regional jail Nov. 8 and advised the defendant that he found him incompetent to stand trial, the letter states. Rawls notes that upon hearing this information, Moore started speaking in a loud voice that continued through the interview and he occasionally banged his hand on the table. Moore demanded to know the reason for the evaluation and to see paperwork, Rawls states. Moore said the hospital found him competent.
Rawls stated that, based on Moore’s presentation at his most recent evaluation, he could not conclude that the defendant demonstrated the capacity to understand proceedings meaningfully or to assist in his defense.
During his court appearance, Moore continued to talk over Ritchie as the judge tried to explain the situation with the case to the defendant. Eventually Ritchie ended the conversation and turned off the feed to the video camera.
Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office deputy J.K. DeMay responded to a residence in Maurertown the morning of Feb. 6 for a report of a domestic assault. A criminal complaint filed in the case states that emergency dispatchers received three calls to 911 in which they could hear two female voices screaming for help while a male yelled at them. Each time dispatchers received the call the male would take the phone and hang up, the complaint states.
DeMay could hear screaming coming from inside the residence when he arrived at the scene, according to the complaint. Deputy J. Cowgill, who also responded, could see through a rear window that a man, later identified as Moore, had his right arm around a female’s neck and his left around another female’s neck, the complaint states. Cowgill entered the residence by knocking open a door with a sledgehammer. Moore took both females into the kitchen in an attempt to hold on to them, the complaint states. Moore refused deputies’ commands and the officers went hands on with the suspect, ultimately freeing the females, the complaint states. Moore resisted arrest but deputies eventually secured him in handcuffs.
One victim told DeMay that Moore accused her earlier that morning of poisoning him, the complaint states. She said Moore put his hands on her and began to hit her in the head repeatedly and strangled her, according to DeMay. Rescue workers on the scene said the woman sustained a concussion, a black eye, a mouth full of blood and abrasions around the neck consistent with strangulation, the complaint states. The woman said she lost consciousness. The other female said she could not breathe as Moore choked her.