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Deria Case Still in Limbo

Murder suspect remains incompetent to stand trial.

On Jan. 22, 2002, a Fairfax County grand jury indicted Ahmed Deria of Franconia for murder. Police believe Deria killed his brother, Saeed Deria, 28, of Chantilly, shortly before Christmas 2001.

More than three years have passed since then, but — because of Ahmed Deria's unknown mental state — he has been unable to stand trial for the crime. And it's anyone's guess when, or if, he'll be improved enough to do so.

The victim was stabbed in his sleep in his Rockland Village apartment, Dec. 20, 2001, around 5 a.m. He died six hours later, around 11 a.m., at Inova Fairfax Hospital due to a single stab wound to his upper body.

Ahmed lived in the 6000 block of Burdon Court in the Kingstowne section of Franconia and was visiting Saeed at the time. Following his arrest, Ahmed began exhibiting bizarre behavior in the Adult Detention Center.

He had visual and auditory hallucinations and refused to take medication or wear clothes. He was given a psychiatric examination and found incompetent. Concerned he might endanger himself and/or others at the jail, Fairfax County officials transferred him, Feb. 13, 2002, to Central State Hospital for mental evaluation and treatment.

Dr. Eugene Gourley, a clinical psychologist who examined him there, testified at Deria's May 24, 2002 competency hearing in Circuit Court that no one knew, yet, if Deria was retarded or simply lacked the education to understand what was happening to him.

He explained that Deria had difficulty reasoning and comprehending the court process. Gourley said he "seemed to understand what he was charged with, but [not] the seriousness of it or of the consequences."

According to the doctor, Deria's psychiatric and medical history appeared to be consistent with schizophrenia. He also noted that a childhood head trauma caused Deria problems with thinking and memory.

Gourley said Deria had stabbed the same brother, a few years earlier, in California, but the doctor didn't know if he was punished for it legally. He said Deria told him the authorities "let him go." He also emphasized that Deria needs continued treatment and medication to keep from becoming violent and aggressive.

Judge Jonathan Thacher then ordered Deria sent to Central State for further psychiatric treatment and assessment. After later updates on his mental condition — which hadn't improved significantly — the same thing happened when Deria returned to court, Nov. 8, 2002, and again on Jan. 7, 2004 and Oct. 1, 2004 — the latter two times before Judge Stanley Klein.

Meanwhile, Deria is now 33 and the criminal case against him remains in limbo. Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. recently heard from Central State that "Deria is still incompetent." And, he added, "It's not known if he'll ever be restorable."