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Murder Suspect Returned to Mental Hospital

Just when it looked as if Ahmed Deria would finally stand trial for the December 2001 murder of his brother, it's back to the drawing board. In Deria's case, that means Central State Hospital for further mental evaluation.

Deria was scheduled for a jury trial on Monday, Jan. 12. Instead, five days before the proceedings were to begin, the issue of his competency arose again — as it has, ever since he was arrested — delaying his trial indefinitely.

The crime occurred five days before Christmas, on Dec. 20, 2001. The victim, Saeed Deria, 28, of Chantilly, was asleep in bed in his Rockland Village apartment, around 5 a.m., when he was viciously attacked. He died six hours later at Inova Fairfax Hospital from a single stab wound to his upper body.

NO MOTIVE has as yet been revealed, but his brother Ahmed, 30, of 6004 Burdon Court in the Kingstowne section of Franconia, was visiting him at the time. Fairfax County police initially charged Ahmed Deria with malicious wounding. But after Saeed died, the grand jury indicted Deria for murder.

However, things turned even dicier after Deria began behaving bizarrely in jail. He had visual and auditory hallucinations and refused to take medication or wear clothes. He was given a psychiatric examination and found incompetent.

In February 2002, the county transferred him to Cantral State Hospital where Dr. Eugene Gourley, a clinical psychologist, examined him. And during Deria's May 2002 competency hearing in Circuit Court, he said it's unknown whether Deria is retarded or simply lacks the education to understand what's happening to him.

He said Deria had difficulty reasoning and comprehending the court process — especially the concepts of a jury trial and the differences between the various pleas he could enter. The doctor also doubted that Deria would be able to understand the legal process enough to help his attorney.

SAID GOURLEY: "He seemed to understand what he was charged with, but didn't understand the seriousness of it or of the consequences." He said Deria's psychiatric and medical history appeared to be consistent with schizophrenia. And he noted that a childhood head trauma caused Deria problems with thinking and memory.

Gourley also revealed that Deria had stabbed the same brother, a couple years ago, in California, but the doctor didn't know if he was punished for it legally. He stressed that Deria needs continued treatment and medication to keep from becoming violent and aggressive.

Judge Jonathan Thacher then ordered Deria sent to Central State Hospital for psychiatric treatment and assessment. In June, Gourley declared him competent to stand trial, and a trial was set for Jan. 12. But last Wednesday, Jan. 7, in Circuit Court, history repeated itself.

"The lawyer and another doctor raised the question of whether he'd slipped back into being not competent to understand the proceedings," explained Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., who's prosecuting the case. "In the past two weeks, his attorney, public defender Bradley Buster, has had trouble communicating with him."

As a result, Judge Stanley Klein returned Deria to Central State for further treatment and evaluation. No new trial date has been set. But, said Horan, "Whenever he's declared competent, he'll be put back onto the docket."