Ashanti Billie murder suspect won’t stand trial, judge rules he can’t be restored to competency


VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY)  — Eric Brown, the man accused of killing 19-year-old Ashanti Billie after abducting her from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in 2017, won’t stand trial unless he can be fully restored to competency.

U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Jackson ruled Tuesday that Brown can’t be restored to competency with medication. Brown was diagnosed with schizophrenia in December 2017 and he had taken drugs while in custody to relieve his symptoms, but they didn’t fully restore competency.

A judge had previously ordered in December 2019 that Brown couldn’t be forcibly medicated.

Ashanti Billie

The prosecution is expected to now seek a civil commitment in the case to have Brown placed in a facility.

Brown originally faced capital punishment on a federal kidnapping resulting in death charge in the case, but U.S. Attorney General William Barr directed prosecutors in 2019 not to seek the death penalty.

Billie’s death eventually led to the creation of the federal Ashanti Alert program to help find critically missing adults, which is in the process of being implemented.

After the hearing Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia released a statement on the outcome of the case.

“The indictment against Eric Brown remains in effect. We can’t proceed w/ trial as he’s not competent due to mental illness. We will seek to have him committed to GOV facility. If he becomes competent in future, we intend to proceed with his prosecution.”

Clarification: The original version of this article said Brown won’t stand trial, but if he’s ever restored to competency, the case will go to trial. The indictment stands if competency is ever restored.

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