After nearly two hours of reports, discussion, and contemplation, on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 10, Judge Craig Day ruled Jamie Childs of Fennimore, unable to be brought to competency for trial and suspended proceedings against him.
Childs, 26, previously faced three felony counts of first degree child sexual assualt-sexual contact with a child under the age of 13.
The incidents that led to Childs’ arrest allegedly happened at the home he shared with his mother in July of this year. Each child allegedly informed their parent that Childs had touched them inappropriately several times.
Childs sat silent in the courtroom next to his attorney with his mother seated behind them.
It was previously determined that both doctors on either side of the proceedings had ruled Childs presently incompetent. However, each had opposing views on whether or not he could be brought to competency in the one year allowed by statute.
The first to testify, on behalf of the state, was Dr. Christina Engen. Engen is a psychologist who is employed with the State of Wisconsin Forensics Unit. After briefly explaining to the court her qualifications, Engen dove into her findings from her time with Childs.
“I met with Jamie Childs on Sept. 25, 2019,” Engen explained to the courtroom. “I reviewed the criminal complaint, education, medical, and mental health records. I also spoke with his mother.”
Engen continued to explain that through her conversations with Childs’ mother, she was informed that his mother provides “informal support” for Childs and noted she “indicated he is lower functioning and requires support.” Engen went on to further share with the court that his mother told her that Childs is “unable to follow more than a two step direction.”
Engen described her interview with Childs and noted that they spoke about the court process and that “he had a fairly good understanding of the seriousness of his charges and that he understood the circumstances for how his charges came about.” It was however, in discussions about how plea options worked that Engen indicated Childs experienced a “fair amount of confusion.”
“It is my opinion that Mr. Childs is not competent to proceed at this time,” Engen said. “I believe it is more likely than not he could be brought to competency with better and appropriate education of the court system.”
Engen touched on the fact that Childs has a rare genetic condition which is “known to be associated with intellectual disability.”
Following Engen’s testimony, Dr. Jeff Marcus was brought to the stand. Marcus shared his credentials, working with the University of Wisconsin among other jobs and credentials with the court as Engen had before diving into his findings.
Marcus went on to explain how he had met with Childs in his office at the Stoughton Hospital, as well as reading the same documents as Engen had previously.
“The documents were of import because they provided a fairly broad background on Mr. Childs which was consistent with personal observations,” Marcus told the court. “I don’t believe he will be more likely than not to be treated to competency. With his developmental disability he lacks capacity to understand deeper concepts.”
Marcus noted that Childs was unable to answer the same questions about the crimes and functioning of the court personnel and system that he was able to answer with Engen.
Marcus continued to explain he did not believe that Childs had the ability to be “reflective” or comprehend the abstract or learn those things specifically that would allow him to assist in his own defense. “Because intellect is not a treatable condition, it is not fair to say he could be treatable to competency,” Marcus concluded.
Following the final arguments from both sides, reiterating the facts that their expert doctors shared with the court, Judge Day consulted some legal books and contemplated briefly.
“It’s undisputed that Mr. Childs is not presently competent,” Judge Day began. “It is undisputed that his condition is static. He can not be medicated to fix these problems. He can’t be educated to perform to the same level as someone without impairments. These impairments interfere with the ability to process information, interfere with the ability to manipulate information, to plan...to problem solve. And I have no doubt about what Mr. Childs could take up through education. But, a more different question is whether by getting the information if it will afford him the ability to use, apply, juggle if you will, the information in a decision making portion to help advise his council. There are certain decisions we know an attorney can not make for a criminal defendant...” Day stopped briefly to contemplate silently before issuing his conclusion on the matter to suspend the proceedings against Childs.
Day explained to the court that referrals would be able to be made for the internal process of putting Childs into protective custody as well.