Defense claims man accused of dragging police with his car has mental issues

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: The defense attorney representing a man accused of dragging a police officer with his car during a traffic stop last year brought up his client’s alleged mental health problems at a pretrial hearing Thursday at the Bowie County courthouse.

Jaroy Simpson, 25, was arrested in May for aggravated assault of a public servant, evading arrest or detention in a vehicle, theft of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance. Simpson’s defense attorney, Darren Anderson of Texarkana, told 102nd District Judge Jeff Addison at the beginning of a pretrial hearing Thursday afternoon that he intends to file a motion for a psychological evaluation.

Anderson said Simpson’s mental health issues are “well documented” by medical personnel at the V.A. hospital where Simpson receives services as a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps. First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said she believes Anderson needs to provide medical records from the V.A. to support Anderson’s claims before the state agrees to pay for a mental evaluation. Addison agreed and asked Anderson to have Simpson sign a waiver which will give Anderson the authority to contact the V.A. and request the relevant records himself.

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Crisp said at earlier hearings that the state does not intend to make Simpson a plea offer in light of the allegation that he intentionally evaded arrest and injured an officer by dragging him with his Chevy Malibu following a traffic stop May 15.

Simpson was pulled over shortly after midnight in the 1500 block of West Seventh Street for an alleged traffic violation, according to a probable cause affidavit. Officers smelled an odor of fresh marijuana coming from the car and ordered Simpson to step out, which he did.

As Officer Colten Johnson was attempting to handcuff Simpson, Simpson allegedly jumped back into his Chevy Malibu as Johnson and Butts attempted to stop him. Johnson was allegedly able to get free of the car as Simpson put it into gear and accelerated but Butts was dragged for some distance.

Simpson drove away but was found a short time later at his mother’s home on West Fifth Street. Simpson was discovered hiding behind the house. Inside the Malibu, officers allegedly recovered marijuana, some suspected Ecstasy pills, a fully loaded 9 mm handgun which had been reported stolen out of Texarkana, Ark., ammunition and an assault-style rifle wrapped in a shirt.

Simpson faces six months to two years in a state jail if convicted of theft of a firearm. Both the evading and drug possession charge are punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. If convicted of assaulting Officer Butts, Simpson faces five to 99 years or life in prison.

Simpson is currently free on bond. Addison scheduled him to return to court Feb. 12 for a pretrial hearing.

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