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How man’s mental health history is affecting his case in alleged QuikTrip robbery
Demontae Cortez Lassiter.jpg
Demontae Cortez Lassiter

Documents filed in an April robbery case detail more about a North Carolina man who had been sent to a psychiatric hospital following criminal charges there before he ended up in Hall County again facing criminal charges.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Demontae Lassiter, of Durham, North Carolina, April 3 after they said he punched two people and robbed the QuikTrip on Friendship Road, according to spokesman Derreck Booth. Booth wrote in an email Wednesday that Lassiter then crashed his vehicle while attempting to elude officers and resisted arrest.

Lassiter was charged in a June indictment with robbery by snatching, battery, misdemeanor obstruction of an officer and fleeing to elude. 

A judgment and order filed Jan. 3 for Lassiter found him currently incapable of understanding the charges against him and incompetent to stand trial.

Lassiter and his attorney, Zachary Kelehear, had previously filed a plea of mental incompetence to stand trial on this case.

Kelehear said he couldn’t get into much of the details but said this “was a case where there were clearly mental health concerns.”

He did not comment on the underlying charges

An investigator working the case discovered that Lassiter had been declared insane and ordered confined to a mental health facility after being charged in a 2014 carjacking in North Carolina.

According to reports published in The Warren Record in 2015, Lassiter was arrested and charged with a string of felonies after a bizarre incident in May of 2014 in which he allegedly tried to stop several motorists, eventually taking a vehicle with children inside. According to the newspaper, a psychiatrist testified that Lassiter was schizophrenic and thought his mother was dying and that he was seeing devils.

A North Carolina judge later dismissed all the charges, which included kidnapping, robbery and assault on a law enforcement officer, and ordered Lassiter committed to a state psychiatric hospital.

Dr. Dawn Clark-Plowman performed an evaluation late last year on Lassiter, who said he was living in North Carolina at the time of his arrest.

“He explained he traveled to Georgia to visit family members and the ‘road switched up on (him),’” according to the doctor’s report.

Lassiter told Clark-Plowman he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, “but disagreed with this assessment.”

He had been admitted to Central Regional Hospital from 2015 to 2017 and was enrolled in services through Carolina Outreach, a behavioral health resource.

He made comments about “mistaken identity” and “argued the clothing he was wearing differed from what was seen on the surveillance footage.

“He provided extensive details about his route of travel prior to the incident. He recalled ‘something telling me to go to a debit machine’ and ‘trying to head home to see (his) family.’ He ‘made a left’ and then ‘the police would come to get me for no reason,’” according to the evaluation.

Lassiter said he did not rob the store.

Clark-Plowman opined that Lassiter was incompetent to proceed with the case but could be restored to competency “with the appropriate level of intervention and treatment.”

Lassiter will be transferred to the custody of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. Within 90 days, he will be evaluated on if he is mentally competent to stand trial or if there is a “substantial probability” he will be competent in the foreseeable future, according to the order.