Ruled insane in 2013 Alexandria officer shooting, man found competent for arson, stalking trial in Pr. William

Kashif Bashir, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2013 shooting of an Alexandria, Virginia, police officer, has been found competent to stand trial in Prince William County for arson and stalking, WTOP has learned.

After reviewing a court-appointed mental health evaluation, circuit court judge Angela Horan found Bashir competent to stand trial, for allegedly stalking and setting fire to the home of a mental health provider, in Feb. 2019.

Horan also appointed a new evaluator to assess whether Bashir was insane when he committed the acts.

Under Virginia law, to find a defendant not guilty by reason of insanity, the defense has to prove that because of a mental disease or defect, the defendant is unable to understand the consequences of an act, determine right from wrong, or resist the impulse to commit the act.

While a defendant’s competency to stand trial can shift over time, the determination that a defendant was insane at the time of the crime is a much higher hurdle, requiring the defense to meet several standards of proof.

Bashir’s attorneys Mark Crossland and Taso Saunders have not said in court filings in the Prince William County case whether they plan to invoke the insanity defense, although they sought, and were granted, this new evaluation of his mental health early last year.

Bashir was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2014 for the shooting of Alexandria police officer Peter Laboy. In 2018, an Alexandria judge released Bashir from a mental hospital, with conditions.

Eight months later, Bashir was charged in Prince William County with starting a fire and trying to set another at the home of two mental health providers.

Elizabeth Dugan — a supervisor at the Prince William County agency responsible for reporting whether Bashir was complying with his conditional release — had been seeing him five days a week, under a court order.

Bashir is charged with felony counts of arson, attempted arson, and making a false statement on a consent form to purchase a firearm, as well as nine counts of misdemeanor stalking, unauthorized use of an electronic tracking device, and possession of a firearm by a person acquitted by reason of insanity.

He is being tried by Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Teresa Polinske.

After he was arrested in Prince William County, Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter filed a motion to revoke Bashir’s conditional release, which remains on hold, as the current arson and stalking case progresses.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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