Judge denies competency review for suspected ‘East Coast Rapist’

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

MANASSAS, Va. – Despite bizarre courtroom outbursts by Aaron Thomas, a judge has ruled she will not order a new mental competency evaluation for the suspected “East Coast Rapist.”

Thomas repeatedly interrupted his own attorneys, prosecutors and Prince William County Circuit Court Judge Mary Grace O’Brien during a hearing Friday morning. At times, he attempted to stand at the defense table and was gently seated by sheriff’s deputies.

Thomas’ attorneys confirmed in court they intend to use an insanity defense for their client, who is charged with raping two teenage girls and attacking another on Halloween in 2009.

The initial doctor who examined Thomas to determine his mental competency concluded he was malingering — pretending to be crazy to avoid prosecution.

In requesting a new competency review, defense lawyers said Thomas is mutilating his face and genitalia in custody and refusing to meet with them.

The judge told Thomas he must agree to speak with court-appointed doctors in jail, or his lawyers will be precluded from mounting an insanity defense.

“OK,” Thomas answered, seemingly cheerfully.

Thomas’ lawyers have filed motions saying he “has complained of an alternate personality named Erwin, active at the time of the alleged offenses and suggestive of possibly dissociative identity disorder.”

Given the chance to speak in court, Thomas blurted several times, “I’m bleeding.”

As the judge ordered him returned to his cell, Thomas protested, “But I never got a chance to talk. You’re not going to let me talk?”

Outside the courthouse, Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert said a doctor for the prosecution also will be able to examine Thomas.

Ebert was asked if he believes Thomas’ odd behavior was all an act.

“The doctor believes it, and I have no reason to doubt what her opinion is,” says Ebert.

Thomas is linked to 17 attacks in Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut that stretched over 20 years.

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