Santiago’s attorney raises issue of mental evaluation

Friday, July 7, 2017

The attorney representing a Carroll County man accused in the brutal slaying of his brother earlier this year broached the topic of a mental evaluation during a brief court appearance on Thursday.

Joseph Ian Santiago, 18, appeared in Carroll County Circuit Court in Berryville with his attorney, public defender Robert W. “Beau” Allen, for a scheduled pretrial hearing.

Allen asked Circuit Judge Scott Jackson for a 30-day continuance so that Little Rock attorney Patrick J. Benca, who has joined the defense as a co-counsel, can review the case. Deputy prosecuting attorney Craig Parker said the state had no objection to a continuance, and Jackson rescheduled the hearing for 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14, at the Carroll County Western District Courthouse in Eureka Springs.

Jackson asked the attorneys what issues will be addressed at the hearing and Allen replied that the topics would be “omnibus issues or a mental evaluation.”

No mental evaluation has been ordered in the case, but Allen’s comment may be an indication that the defense plans to request one.

Santiago has pleaded not guilty to charges of capital murder, attempted capital murder and arson. He is accused of beating and stabbing Alex Santiago, 21, to death inside a mobile home in the Grandview area northwest of Berryville on Jan. 17.

According to an affidavit from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Joseph Santiago admitted to investigators that he killed his brother with a baseball bat and sword. The affidavit says Joseph Santiago also admitted to being responsible for a fire at the family’s home in April 2016. The affidavit says Joseph Santiago told investigators that he locked his brother in his room and poured gasoline on the floor before setting the home on fire.

The attempted capital murder and arson charges apparently stem from that incident.

The affidavit says that during his initial call to the sheriff’s office on Jan. 17, the brothers’ father indicated that Alex Santiago was autistic.

Santiago was brought into the courtroom separately from other county prisoners on Tuesday. Wearing an orange jumpsuit, he was shackled at the waist and his hands and feet were cuffed. He stood quietly during the proceedings and then was quickly escorted out of the courtroom by sheriff’s office personnel.

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