Anoka County inmate 'Jane Doe' found incompetent to stand trial

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 16, 2013 - 9:04 PM

Jane Doe, the accused burglar who has refused to talk to authorities since landing in the Anoka County jail in July, isn't mentally fit to stand trial.

The ruling became public Wednesday during a court hearing that turned heated at times. Doe, 37, spent the past two months undergoing a court-ordered psychological evaluation at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.

She apparently didn't cooperate with staffers, but two experts assigned to the case determined that she has significant mental illness. Her mother was also contacted.

"The formal diagnosis does give significant insight into her," said Jennifer Pradt, her attorney. "And there is significant history to back up the diagnosis."

Prosecutor Justin Collins said his office won't challenge the ruling. Doe will be civilly committed to St. Peter on Friday in an attempt to treat her back to competency.

A confounding case

The standard for finding defendants competent is fairly low -- they must be able to understand the nature of the court proceedings and work rationally with their attorney.

Doe, whose real name is Tammy Thomas, has befuddled investigators and jail deputies. She refused to let police take fingerprints or her mug shot after she was arrested and charged with breaking into a house in Fridley. Deputies eventually lifted her prints off a drinking glass.

She has had no visitors or telephone calls. If she had broken her silence, Doe most likely would have gotten out of jail long ago.

Both attorneys said the competency report is confidential, so it's unclear whether any reasons were given for her secrecy. Pradt said the ruling was appropriate and the report thorough.

"We know more about Ms. Doe," she said. "She may not have control over what she's doing."

Doe had little criminal history until her arrest in Fridley. She broke into an empty house, changed the locks and put up drapes, according to the charges. Officers found a sport-utility vehicle stolen from Genoa City, Wis., in the garage, and later discovered minor thefts in Baraboo and Tomah, Wis.

Public records show that she has a practical nurse's license that expires this year and that she is registered to vote.

'You were given a name'

During Wednesday's hearing, Pradt raised a concern to Judge Daniel O'Fallon that Doe was disciplined in jail because she wasn't interacting with jail deputies. She was put in segregation and had her few privileges restricted. The judge said he wouldn't delve into jail policy because he needed more information on why she was disciplined.

Doe asked the judge not to refer to her as Tammy Thomas. He had opened the hearing by calling her Tammy Thomas, but said, "also known as Jane Doe."

"If you have evidence you are another person, provide information and I will look at it," he said.

Through her attorney, Doe said she wasn't Tammy Thomas because results from one of the two databases that police ran her fingerprints through were inconclusive.

A visibly frustrated O'Fallon sternly said he was confident she had been accurately identified.

"You are somebody. You were given a name at birth," he said, leaning forward in his chair. "Jane Doe isn't on your birth certificate."

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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