Judge orders Santiago to proceed with mental exam

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Carroll County man who is accused of murdering his brother in a grisly slaying more than a year ago was scheduled to undergo a mental evaluation on Tuesday, Feb. 13, despite an 11th-hour motion by his attorneys to cancel the evaluation.

Joseph Ian Santiago, 19, is accused of beating and stabbing 21-year-old Alex Santiago to death on Jan. 17, 2017, inside a mobile home in the Grandview area northwest of Berryville.

Santiago admitted to investigators that he killed his brother with a baseball bat and sword, according to an affidavit from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

In August, Carroll County Circuit Judge Scott Jackson ordered that Santiago undergo a mental evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, at the request of defense attorneys.

On Monday, however, public defender Robert “Beau” Allen filed a motion to dismiss the defense’s request for a mental evaluation.

Prosecutors responded with a motion seeking to continue with the evaluation, and Jackson issued an order instructing Santiago to attend his scheduled appointment Feb. 13.

Jackson’s order also scheduled a hearing on the issue for 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, at the Eastern Carroll County District Courthouse in Berryville.

Santiago has pleaded not guilty to charges of capital murder, attempted capital murder and arson. The attempted capital murder and arson charges apparently stem from a fire at the family’s home in April 2016. Santiago told investigators that he locked his brother in his room and poured gasoline on the floor before setting the home on fire, according to the affidavit. The affidavit indicated that Alex Santiago was autistic.

Joseph Santiago was 17 at the time of his brother’s death and initially was held in a juvenile facility, although prosecutors said from the outset that they intend to try him as an adult. He was transferred to the Carroll County Detention Center on Feb. 9, 2017 — the date of his 18th birthday, roughly three weeks after his brother’s death.

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