Man will receive evaluation in Connell assault

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldNovember 21, 2012 

A mental health evaluation was ordered Tuesday for a 20-year-old Alabama man accused of pointing a sawed-off shotgun out his car window at a Connell officer during a traffic stop.

James Thomas Hall of Laceys Spring is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a short-barreled shotgun, both felonies.

Hall, who had a round chambered in the shotgun, reportedly said Saturday night that he intended to shoot the officer, according to court documents.

His lawyer, Larry Zeigler, entered an innocent plea during Tuesday's court hearing, but agreed with Deputy Prosecutor Dave Corkrum that his client should be checked out by professionals from Eastern State Hospital.

Documents show that at 9:39 p.m. Saturday, Hall was driving a car with Alabama plates when he ignored a stop sign on the ramp from Highway 395 entering Highway 260.

Hall also crossed halfway over the yellow lines separating eastbound and westbound traffic on 260, documents said.

Officer Michael S. Thorson said after watching those violations, he activated his flashing overhead lights and stopped Hall's vehicle on the highway, just west of Columbia Avenue.

Thorson wrote in court documents that as he approached the vehicle from the passenger's side, he noticed the man behind the wheel had a sawed-off shotgun pointing out the window on the driver's side.

Thorson apparently called for backup and, "after de-escalating the situation," secured the shotgun so he could read Hall his Miranda rights, documents said.

Thorson said he asked Hall about his intentions, and learned that the driver not only planned to shoot him but also "was going to rob a store in order to get money and being a crime spree," documents said.

Hall is being held in the Franklin County jail on $100,000 bail. Instead of going to the state mental health facility in Medical Lake, a psychologist will visit him in jail in Pasco.

The order, signed Tuesday by Judge Craig Matheson, asks the experts to exam Hall's competency as to whether he can understand the legal proceedings and assist in his defense, and to look at whether he has "the particular state of mind" to have intentionally assaulted the officer and knowingly possess the gun.

The case has been put on hold until the evaluation is complete.

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