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Man accused of Flowery Branch crime spree was previously charged with carjacking, declared insane
Demontae Cortez Lassiter.jpg
Demontae Cortez Lassiter

A North Carolina man accused of a string of crimes in Flowery Branch this week previously had carjacking charges against him dismissed and was declared mentally ill, according to published reports.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Demontae Cortez Lassiter, 29, of Durham, North Carolina, Wednesday morning 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.

In a Thursday email to The Times, Booth said 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.

Details about how long Lassiter may have been confined or the circumstances of his release weren’t available due to patient privacy laws, according to a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which serves as administrator for Central Regional Hospital, the state psychiatric facility. The Superior Court clerk of Warren County was unavailable to provide records in the case.

Hall County deputies initially responded to an assault call at 5:44 a.m. Wednesday, April 3, at Sherwin Parkway off of Atlanta Highway. Booth said the victim in that incident was punched in the face and had no known connection to the suspect.

“As deputies were en route, Hall County 911 dispatchers advised them that the same male suspect had left the original scene and was at QuikTrip at the corner of Ga. 347/Friendship Road and Atlanta Highway, going through a cash register,” Booth wrote.

Booth said the suspect punched a customer at the store and then was “forcing his way behind the counter and grabbing money” from the register.

The suspect sped away from the convenience store in an Acura MDX toward I-985 and did not comply with arriving officers’ commands to stop, according to Booth.

“Still in the SUV, the man sped around deputies and hit the concrete median on Friendship Road. The wreck disabled the vehicle at Bristol Industrial Way,” Booth wrote.

Lassiter was charged with robbery in addition to two counts of battery, three counts of obstruction and fleeing to elude. The QuikTrip money was found in Lassiter’s vehicle, Booth said, but he did not specify how much money was taken.

Booth said no weapons were used, and injuries were minor.

The case is still under investigation.

News editor Nate McCullough contributed to this report.