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Alleged in-flight door unlocker and spoon stabber ordered to undergo mental testing

A federal judge today ordered Francisco Severo Torres of Fitchburg sent to a federal prison medical center in Devens, or an equivalent facility, for at least 30 days to determine whether he is competent to face trial on charges he tried to open a door on United flight to Boston and then lunged at a flight attendant with a sharp object he fashioned from a metal spoon handle.

US Magistrate Judge Judith Dein acted on a motion by federal prosecutors for a formal competency evaluation:

I find there is reasonable cause to belive that the defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent within the meaning of [the relevant federal law].

Innocent, etc.

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Mental testing? Clearly there is a mental issue. And then what? No place to go? Health insurance coverage for "treatment"?? Forced institutionalism? Psych meds? Jail? Then homeless?

What has not been made clear is whether this "sharp object he fashioned from a metal spoon handle" was something he made while on the plane or whether he carried it on the plane with him. Either way, shouldn't somebody have noticed?

We're not *quite* to the point of "everyone must be sedated and in a straightjacket" yet when it comes to air travel.

And he broke the spoon in the bathroom to make it (marginally) sharp.

There's always someone who sees something. But last time someone said something they got shot or stabbed.

Pretty sure from the original report that he was seen by another passenger, who was one of the people who helped restrain him.

or is part of the idea just that the medical center is a safer place to hold him?

When dealing with an unknown, the evaluation is systematic.

First order of business may be detox or a drug evaluation. Not only do drugs of abuse take time to clear the system and make some people psychotic, many mentally ill people self medicate to the point where the distinctions blur.

It also takes time to evaluate patients if they aren't able to be cooperative. If you are massively paranoid and delusional, think about how you might respond to captivity. And yet, our legal system demands some pretty fine shades of crazy to establish competence/incompetence and whether someone really understood what they were doing was criminal.

Evaluation also includes medication for any treatable mental illnesses that are found. Antipsychotics take a while to adjust.

If anything, 30 days is too short for all of this.

Bridgewater still exists for criminally insane who can't be held responsible but also can't be released safely into society. Potential homelessness, relapse, and reoffense doesn't seem to enter into the equation.


Well he’s probably considered a flight risk.

BOT: The only question left to me is where to put him when he is convicted. There are way to many witnesses to what he did for him not to be convicted of many crimes. Assault and Battery appears to be the most serious issue but interfering with interstate transportation seems to be the crime that has the strongest consequences regarding prison time? He could get life in prison for that.