A man charged federally in a September chase and shooting spree which ended in Emporia has requested through his counsel a hearing to determine his mental competency as well as psychiatric or psychological examination.
The motion was filed Tuesday on behalf of Franklin Joseph Dangerfield, the man indicted in the case.
In discovery documents provided by the government, counsel noted that Dangerfield, of South Carolina, sustained a head injury in the past after a tree fell through the roof of his residence and struck his head.
“Counsel confirmed that the defendant suffered a head injury through phone calls with the defendant’s family members,” the motion says. “With the assistance of the defendant’s family, counsel’s law firm obtained records from civil litigation related to the defendant’s head injury. Those records included medical records related to the defendant’s head trauma and recovery, a vocational evaluation prepared for litigation, and the deposition of an expert witness.”
Dangerfield’s counsel has had four in-person meetings with his client and during the first three counsel did not observe behavior that caused concern about the man’s competency to stand trial.
On March 9, however, during a meeting at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, the motion says Dangerfield was observed making delusional statements.
Scott Sautter, a neuropsychologist, met with Dangerfield on March 11 and the doctor “was unable to conduct a full battery of testing with the defendant due to (him) becoming agitated.”
During a March 31 phone call, Sautter reported that Dangerfield made multiple delusional statements. “Based on his 90 minutes with the defendant and his review of records related to the defendant’s medical history, Dr. Sautter informed counsel that he has concerns about the defendant’s competency to assist in his defense and agreed that a full competency evaluation should be conducted.”
The motion continues, based on counsel’s most recent observations of Dangerfield and the information provided by Sautter, “there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.”
Counsel believes it would be appropriate for the court to commit Dangerfield to the custody of the attorney general for placement in a suitable facility to conduct the psychiatric or psychological examination. “Counsel requests that the evaluation determine whether Mr. Dangerfield understands the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him and whether he can properly assist in his defense. Counsel also requests that the evaluation determine, at the time of the alleged offenses, whether Mr. Dangerfield appreciated the criminality of his alleged actions and/or was capable of conforming his behavior to the law.”
The government does not object to the motion, the document says.
Dangerfield was charged by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for possession of the sawed-off shotgun.
According to the ATF complaint, deputies with the Nash County Sheriff’s Office responded to southern Nash County after receiving calls of a male shooting at vehicles along I-95 from a black pickup.
Deputies located the truck traveling at high speeds north on I-95, and pursued the driver through four counties, before crossing the North Carolina-Virginia state line.
Deputies with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office and the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the pursuit.
The driver of the pickup truck exceeded speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour before crashing at mile marker 11 in Emporia.
Virginia State Police observed Dangerfield, the sole occupant of the vehicle, in the driver’s seat and a loaded Savage Arms Springfield 67H 12-gauge shotgun in plain view on the front passenger seat.
The shotgun had a sawed-off barrel and was not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, in violation of federal law. Officers also recovered shotgun shells and a hacksaw from the truck.
The injuries in Nash County along I-95 included one person shot in the shoulder and another punctured in the face by shattered glass.
A Nash County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s marked vehicle sustained damage in the chase and the deputy received treatment for non-life threatening injuries.
A South Carolina TV station reported at the time Dangerfield set his house in Ladson, South Carolina on fire before leading authorities on the high-speed chase.
The Charleston Post & Courier reported in May of 2017 Dangerfield faced numerous counts after he attempted to carjack three vehicles and then tried to kidnap two teens.
At the time he was charged with grand larceny, first-degree burglary and two counts each of kidnapping and carjacking.