Anoka County inmate continues to stymie system

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 6, 2012 - 9:07 PM

She declined to talk to a psychologist, puzzling judge.

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Tammy T. Thomas

Since being jailed after allegedly breaking into a house in Fridley nearly two months ago, Tammy T. Thomas has thrown up a bizarre series of obstacles for police, jailers, attorneys and judges.

For weeks, she was referred to as Jane Doe because she refused to identify herself or to give her fingerprints. Police were finally able to learn her identity after lifting her fingerprints off a drinking glass and running them through a national data base. Yet in subsequent hearings in Anoka County court, she did not acknowledge that she is Tammy Thomas.

In the latest twist, she declined twice last month to cooperate with a court-ordered psychologist to determine if she is competent to stand trial.

During a hearing on Thursday, she finally acknowledged to Judge Jenny Walker Jasper that her name is Tammy Thomas, but she gave no indication she would cooperate on a competency evaluation.

Near the start of the hearing, Walker Jasper asked public defender Jennifer Pradt to speak with Thomas again to see if she would be willing to talk to a psychologist. They went to a conference room, and Pradt returned a minute later.

When Thomas was called back into the courtroom, Pradt asked her if she realized she might limit her defense options if she didn't complete an evaluation. Without hesitation, Thomas replied: "I have a right to remain silent."

Pradt told the judge she couldn't see how the evaluation could be accomplished. She then asked Thomas if there was any way she would cooperate. Thomas stood silent.

Pradt, prosecutor Justin Collins and the judge huddled and paged through a statute book as they discussed the next move.

One more meeting

Walker Jasper ordered Thomas to meet with the psychologist one more time. If she didn't complete the evaluation, the judge said she would have no choice but to send Thomas to the state security hospital at St. Peter for a longer attempt at an evaluation.

If that happened, it's unclear how long Thomas would have to stay at the hospital. But because a competency evaluation has been requested, a determination has to be made one way or the other, even if Thomas continues not to cooperate. Her next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 25.

Thomas, 37, landed in Minnesota after an alleged crime spree that spread across Illinois and Wisconsin. The offenses appear to be minor, so police don't understand why she wouldn't talk to them. Nobody connected to the case can recall any inmate consistently refusing to give his or her name.

In jail, Thomas refused to give fingerprints or allow a mug shot, and deputies didn't feel compelled to force her to cooperate. Eventually, they confiscated a glass and dusted it for fingerprints. They traced her to a warrant in Illinois for failing to appear for a traffic violation, but she claimed she wasn't that person. At a court hearing in July, when she was still referred to as Jane Doe, she gave a judge several false names and was given a 60-day sentence for being in contempt of court.

She faces charges of trespassing and of theft, accused of stealing an SUV in Wisconsin before coming to Minnesota.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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