The case against a 26-year-old man charged with attacking his friend’s grandmother is on hold after a judge determined he is not competent to stand trial.
Jared W. Pruitt lacks the capacity to understand the legal proceedings or “assist in his defense as a result of mental disease or defect,” said the order signed this week by Judge Alex Ekstrom.
Pruitt will spend 90 days at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake for competency restoration.
The order said staff at the state psychiatric facility may involuntary administer clinically appropriate medication if Pruitt refuses to cooperate.
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A status hearing is set for March 15 in Benton County Superior Court.
Pruitt is charged with second-degree assault, with the aggravating circumstance that he knew or should have known the victim “was particularly vulnerable and incapable of resistance due to advanced age.”
Prosecutors allege he tried to strangle Martha Turner, 74, inside her Richland home on Dec. 21.
Pruitt had gone to Turner’s house the day before, said he’d just been released from jail and asked to stay the night, court documents said.
Turner knew Pruitt was a friend of her grandson, but she declined his request to spend the night. She offered him food, but Pruitt didn’t eat and left after 30 minutes.
When Pruitt returned the following day, Turner reportedly let him inside to sit in a chair while she painted, documents said. She was walking past him to get to the bathroom when Pruitt allegedly grabbed Turner and threw her to the floor.
Pruitt “placed his hands on her neck and compressed,” court documents said. Turner told police she thought she was going to die.
Pruitt got up and left the house after about 10 minutes, documents said. He was arrested later that day at a home in Benton City.
Turner, who called 911 for an ambulance, was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland for treatment.