Man accused of arson and attempted murder will receive mental health treatment before case proceeds
A 23-year-old man who is accused of setting his girlfriend and her apartment on Maple Street in Batavia on fire last June is mentally incapable of assisting in his own defense, Judge Charles Zambito ruled this afternoon.
Plush Dozier will be remanded to the Commissioner of Mental Health for treatment and then be reevaluated, Zambito ruled.
Three psychiatrists examined Dozier and two of them found him capable of understanding the charges against him and recognizing the roles of the judge and attorneys in a court proceeding, but all three said he suffers from schizoaffective disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and is prone to paranoia and hallucinations.
Zambito noted that all three doctors described his disorders as fluid. In other words, he can slip from lucid to psychotic at any time. And while his disorders can be managed with treatment and medication, there is no record, Zambito said, that he is receiving or has received proper and appropriate treatment.
"Dr. Mitchell described his condition as a moving target," Zambito said. "All three doctors who evaluated him said he could snap at any time. This is consistent with the representations by his attorneys that at times he was lucid and could cope and at times he was not."
He added later, "All of them (the doctors) indicated or represented concerns that if not treated, his symptoms could very well become active and interfere with his ability to effectively assist in his own defense."
Zambito also noted that Dozier's disorders go back to his childhood.
"There is no indication that he is feigning anything or that he is a malingerer," Zambito said.
Dozier is currently represented by Thomas Burns, his third attorney. He is being held in Attica, and reportedly in solitary confinement despite his lack of a conviction in this case, because the Genesee County Jail and its staff is ill-equipped to deal with a person with Dozier's multiple disorders.
He was accused of menacing a police officer after an alleged violent incident while in local custody two months after his arrest.
At the start of today's hearing, Burns said he had met with his client and his client had asked to speak with the judge about his treatment, or alleged mistreatment, in Attica. He has raised this issue before and, as Burns noted, has been told by Zambito that the county court judge lacks jurisdiction to change where he is being held or affect the status of his custody. Still, Burns said, Dozier wished to raise the issue.
Zambito suggested that the court hear the testimony of Dr. Virginia Wohltmann, who examined Dozier in December, and that the court then take a recess so Burns could discuss the specifics of the situation at Attica with his client.
After Zambito heard two other cases, Burns and Dozier returned to the courtroom and Burns said his client had decided against putting anything on the record today about his treatment in Attica. At that point Zambito informed Burns and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman that he had finished reviewing the witnesses' testimony in the hearing (which was held in parts over different days) and was ready to render a decision.
Zambito then reviewed the testimony of the three doctors before stating that he found that while Dozier might be able to understand the proceedings, his fluid mental state would make it difficult for him to assist in his defense.
"This is not the end of the matter," Zambito said. "This is not the final verdict but based on the credible evidence presented in this court, I find the defendant at this time is an incapacitated person and remand him to the custody of the Commissioner of Mental Health for care and treatment for up to one year and then he will be reevaluated and brought back."