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Teen awaits mental health treatment as Duluth homicide case lingers

Patrick Battees Jr. will begin receiving some services at a juvenile detention facility, but his attorney has asked a judge to order the state to explain why he has yet to be placed at a psychiatric hospital.

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Patrick Wilson Battees Jr.
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DULUTH — The attorney for a teenager accused of fatally shooting a man in the Central Hillside last year asserted that his client's constitutional rights are being violated as he continues to be held in a juvenile detention facility instead of a state hospital.

Patrick Wilson Battees Jr., 18, was found incompetent to stand trial in October on murder charges stemming from the May killing of 22-year-old Juamada Keller Anderson Jr.

Battees was then civilly committed to the Minnesota Department of Human Services in November. But he has remained at the Arrowhead Juvenile Center in Duluth as local officials said he has not been deemed a priority for admittance into the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center.

"Patrick's continued confinement at AJC as a consequence of the commissioner's failure to place him in a DHS facility or to provide him with required treatment services constitutes an ongoing violation of his protected liberty interests under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment," defense attorney J.D. Schmid wrote in a motion filed Thursday.

Schmid has asked a judge to consider ordering agency officials to show cause for why Battees has not yet been placed in a treatment facility or provided with the services he needs to be restored to competency.

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The court previously found that Battees "poses a risk of harm due to a mental illness," as he suffers from "clinical presentation of malingering, antisocial personality disorder, PTSD, severe amphetamine use disorder, severe alcohol use disorder (and) moderate cannabis use disorder."

Civil commitment proceedings will be initiated for Patrick Wilson Battees Jr., with his juvenile court case suspended until he is deemed fit to stand trial.

While he has been designated for treatment at the Twin Cities psychiatric hospital, AJC director Becky Pogatchnik recently told the court that the facility is "nowhere near offering Patrick a bed" due to COVID-19 intake restrictions and a priority for adult criminal defendants.

Battees has been meeting with Human Development Center psychiatrists and receiving recommended medications at AJC, Pogatchnik said.

But Schmid noted that two court-appointed psychologists who examined Battees last year determined he should undergo more specialized services, including neuropsychological testing and brain imaging to assess for potential traumatic brain injuries.

At a hearing Monday, St. Louis County social worker Sheri Simmons told Judge Eric Hylden she has access to the Department of Human Services' restoration curriculum and would be willing to spend two days a week working with Battees at AJC.

Simmons said the two-phase program is meant to provide guidance about the legal process, role and responsibility of the court and general information and examples of the potential consequences of a conviction.

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Korey Horn called it a "creative solution" to ensure Battees receives some restoration services while awaiting further treatment at a state facility.

"I agree with Mr. Schmid's statement regarding frustrations of everyone involved," Horn said. "But it's my understanding that agency (Arrowhead Regional Corrections) has done an excellent job of making sure that Mr. Battees remains stable."

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Schmid also told Hylden that he has identified a doctor who could provide neuropsychological services to Battees, provided the court orders the state to pay for the services in lieu of placing him at Anoka.

As Laurel Ladd Jr. became the second defendant to enter a plea, accused killer Patrick Battees Jr. is still awaiting placement in a mental health facility.

Hylden scheduled another hearing for next Monday to consider the defense's motion to compel a response from the Department of Human Services.

Battees, who was 17 at the time of Anderson's shooting, is charged in juvenile court with intentional and unintentional second-degree murder and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality.

Authorities said Battees was conversing with Anderson on the porch of an apartment building at 118 E. Third St. on May 22, just before two other men arrived at the scene and confronted the teen over his alleged involvement in a prior shooting.

A scuffle broke out and moved toward the sidewalk before Battees allegedly produced a handgun and shot Anderson. Authorities said he ran from the scene, hiding the weapon in a discarded couch, before he was arrested in the downtown area.

A total of five people have been charged in connection with the incident, with four alleged to have fired shots amid the chaotic scene. Two have entered guilty pleas to date.

Prosecutors are seeking to have Battees certified to stand trial as a result, but that process cannot resume until he is deemed capable of understanding the proceedings and participating in his own defense.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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