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County judge dismisses assault, weapon possession charges against psych center patient

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CANTON — Charges against a St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center patient accused of stabbing a psychologist and an aide last year have been dismissed.

James E. Davis, 27, of 1 Chimney Point Drive, Ogdensburg, had been indicted on two counts of second-degree assault, a class D felony, and two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class A misdemeanor.

Mr. Davis, a patient at the Ogdensburg psychiatric center, was accused of stabbing Thomas McDougal, a therapy aide at the center, in the left cheek with a metal butter knife July 15. The grand jury also alleged that Mr. Davis stabbed Chinyere Ukomadu, a psychologist at the center, in the neck with a pencil on July 19.

The two were treated at the emergency room at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, and released. St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards dismissed the charges June 13 after Public Defender Stephen D. Button challenged the grand jury evidence.

Mr. Button argued that District Attorney Mary E. Rain’s office “failed to prove that the knife or the pencil was a dangerous instrument, or that defendant caused physical injury.”

According to Judge Richards’s decision, the grand jury testimonies of Ms. Ukomadu and Mr. McDougal were legally sufficient to establish physical injury. However, the judge wrote, there was no sufficient evidence to establish that either implement allegedly used by Mr. Davis was a dangerous instrument.

“There was no proof that either the butter knife or the pencil was readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury,” Judge Richards wrote.

According to Penal Law 10.00(13), a dangerous instrument is defined as “any instrument, article or substance ... which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury.”

Judge Richards dismissed the two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and, regarding the two counts of second-degree assault, gave the district attorney’s office 30 days or until July 13 to either dismiss the indictment, resubmit the charges to the same or a different grand jury or appeal the order. The district attorney’s office did not pursue the charges.

Ms. Rain did not return calls for comment.

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