A St. Marys man charged with making terroristic threats and assault will be evaluated to determine if he is competent to represent himself.
Joshua Lee Coffey, 25, 1251 E. Eschbach Road, St. Marys, is charged with two counts each of making terroristic threats and assault following an incident in which allegedly he wielded a kitchen knife while threatening to kill his mother and her boyfriend.
The affidavit of probable cause says he made the threats because, “Joshua claimed the meat he was given to eat was pork, which was against his Muslim religion.”
Attorney George Daghir filed a motion for competency exam with the Elk County Court of Common Pleas June 20. The motion was granted following a lengthy hearing Thursday.
Coffey will be sent to Torrence State Hospital in Westmoreland County for a mental health evaluation.
At his July 2 preliminary hearing, which was continued, and on another occasion, Coffey told Daghir he wanted to represent himself.
Elk County Jail Warden Greg Gebauer testified as a witness for the defense Thursday.
Gebauer said Coffey came into the prison June 11 or 12. The next day he was transferred from Elk County to Jefferson County because after Dickinson Mental Health evaluated him, his counselor Michelle Straub said he needed a more secure environment where he was separated from other inmates and could receive mental health treatment.
In Straub’s evaluations, which were submitted by Daghir as evidence Thursday, she described Coffey as a paranoid schizophrenic with intermittent explosive disorder and anti-social behavior.
About a week and a half ago, Jefferson County officials contacted Gebauer and said Coffey would need another place to be housed because they did not feel they had the resources to handle his explosive and violent behavior or to meet his intense mental health needs.
Coffey is currently housed in the Elk County jail.
Gebauer said he has since contacted the Department of Corrections, which has agreed to assist with Coffey’s custody issues.
Elk County President Judge Richard Masson said the mental health evaluation is imperative to determine whether Coffey is fit to stand trial and represent his own interests.
“I have my own life to look after, I don’t trust anyone else with my life in their hands,” Coffey said. “The more I represent myself, the more level-headed I will become without someone in my path telling me what to do.”
Masson said the evaluation will help assure Coffey has an understanding of the process and procedures he will need to know in order to represent himself.
“I’m trying to protect your rights,” Masson told Coffey.
When Masson said the evaluation would be done by a therapist, Coffey said, “I don’t trust them.”
A determination will be made within 20 days of the time the evaluation results are returned.