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United States v. Houston

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

November 30, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
BENNIE LEE HOUSTON

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On November 30, 2017, the Court held a hearing on the issue of Bennie Lee Houston's dangerousness. At the hearing, the Court found by a preponderance of the evidence that Houston's release would not create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person or serious damage to property of another. The Court also granted an ore tenus unopposed motion of the Government to dismiss the pending charges against Houston. This order memorializes these rulings.

         I

         Relevant Procedural History

         On July 14, 2015, Houston was charged in a two-count indictment with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of possessing a firearm without a serial number. Doc. #1.

         On June 8, 2017, this Court convened a competency hearing regarding Houston's current mental state. Doc. #62. At the hearing, the Court found Houston incompetent to stand trial and then, on the Government's oral motion and without objection by Houston, ordered a dangerousness assessment of Houston.

         On October 19, 2017, the Court received from the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina (“FMC Butner”), a Forensic Evaluation of Houston. Doc. #66. Following receipt of the report, the Court noticed an evidentiary hearing for November 8, 2017, on the issue of Houston's dangerousness. Doc. #67. The evidentiary hearing was subsequently reset for November 30, 2017.

         Doc. #68. On November 30, 2017, the Court convened the hearing and admitted into evidence without objection the October 19, 2017, report.

         At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court found by a preponderance of the evidence that Houston's release would not create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person or serious damage to property of another. After this finding, the Government orally moved to dismiss the charges currently pending against Houston. After being advised that Houston did not oppose dismissal, the Court granted the motion to dismiss.

         II

         Factual Findings

         After this Court directed a dangerousness assessment, Houston was admitted to FMC Butner on July 11, 2017. At FMC Butner, Houston was seen individually by Gillespie Wadsworth, a Forensic Psychologist, and was regularly observed by staff. Houston also appeared before a Risk Assessment Panel on September 18, 2017. The evaluation period ended on October 10, 2017.

         According to the report prepared by Gillespie at the conclusion of the evaluation period, Houston suffers from schizophrenia, a cocaine use disorder, and an alcohol use disorder. Despite these diagnoses, Gillespie believes that:

Houston responds well to medication and his support system is aware of his mental illness and [is] supportive of treatment. He has a reasonable release plan and supports within the community. Thus, although it is clear Mr. Houston suffers from a mental disease or defect, this mental disease or defect does not cause him to pose a substantial ...

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