JEFFERSON — In Ashe County Superior Court Monday, Feb. 10, Jessie R. Hubbard was deemed capable to proceed in his case by Judge Eric Morgan. This comes nearly eight months after he was initially deemed incapable to stand trial by doctors from Central Regional Hospital, a state-run psychiatric hospital in Butner.
Hubbard, 61, of Crumpler, is charged with the Aug. 19, 2018, murder of Diane Goss and four counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. Hubbard physically appeared in the courtroom for the first time since his Aug. 27, 2019, date.
Assistant District Attorney Lee Bollinger presented the court with a request to determine Hubbard’s capacity to proceed. Bollinger pointed to a report dated Jan. 21, from forensic psychiatrist Bruce R. Berger, deeming Hubbard capable. Morgan decided to send the court into recess, allowing him time to look over exhibit A, which included the report.
After reconvening, Morgan wanted to question Hubbard’s attorney, Jak Reeves. Morgan asked Reeves about recent conversations with Hubbard, whether or not he felt Hubbard was capable and Hubbard’s mental faculties. Reeves said he felt Hubbard was coherent, understanding and capable to proceed in the trial.
Reeves also noted Hubbard was taking “a substantial amount of medications for various ailments.” He added Hubbard is worried he is not taking the proper amount of some, but Reeves said he would look into it.
Morgan then turned to Hubbard, wishing to evaluate his capabilities for himself. Morgan made sure Hubbard could hear and understand him, with Hubbard noting he would let Morgan know if there were any issues. Morgan also asked Hubbard if he knew what he was charged with.
“I’m pretty sure, I think I do,” Hubbard said. “I’m not sure if I understand the meanings of it all, but I understand the best I can.”
Hubbard was also asked about the work of Reeves, the district attorney, judges and juries. Hubbard indicated he understood, and Reeves noted Hubbard was not the most knowledgeable as to the inner workings of the court, but got the gist of it all.
Morgan said that based on the totality of information submitted via documentation and their interaction, Hubbard was deemed capable to proceed in his trial. Morgan also said he would be submitting a written order, which would be sealed alongside Berger’s report.
Bollinger then asked that the case be continued to Monday, May 18. Reeves had no objection, but added that in the meantime, he may reach out to the DA’s office.
Hubbard was deemed incapable to stand trial June 14, 2019, by doctors from Central Regional Hospital, a state-run psychiatric hospital in Butner, which was revealed by Reeves at Hubbard’s Aug. 27, 2019, court date.
At a later court date, Sept. 23, 2019, it was revealed Hubbard had been taken from the Ashe County Detention Center to Raleigh for safekeeping, which is done to prisoners as a way to keep either them or those around them from harm, authorities said. Ashe County Sheriff B. Phil Howell said at the time the transport was related to the medications Hubbard was taking.
The Hon. Michael Duncan, who presided over the Aug. 27, Sept. 23 and Nov. 12, 2019, court dates, ordered in September that Hubbard should be taken from Raleigh to Broughton Hospital in Morganton, where he would receive treatment and it would be determined if he is capable to stand trial in the future. There, he was seen by Berger.