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Judge still yet to address if defendant free to skip medication

A woman awaits a final determination on whether she will ever be fit to stand trial

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:12 a.m. HST, Jun 17, 2010

A homeless woman who was shot by police officers with a handgun and a Taser will not be forced to take medication that could make her mentally fit to stand trial for allegedly threatening the officers, according to her lawyer, Marcus Landsberg.

Yvonne Arsisto, 46, is awaiting trial on four counts of first-degree terroristic threatening.

A state judge determined last December and again yesterday that Arsisto does not understand the court proceedings against her and is unable to assist in her defense. The judge has scheduled another fitness review hearing in 90 days.

Landsberg wants the judge to make a determination whether Arsisto will ever be able to stand trial. He said he believes her mental condition is due to her not taking anti-psychotic medication.

"Right now she doesn't want to be taking any medication," he said.

Landsberg said he had no problem communicating with Arsisto when she was on medication in a module for mental health patients at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

He said her condition deteriorated after prison officials moved her to the general population of pretrial women inmates at OCCC, where she also stopped taking medication.

Arsisto is now at Hawaii State Hospital.

Landsberg says the state cannot force Arsisto to take medication to make her ready for trial if she doesn't pose an imminent threat of danger to herself or others.

Honolulu police said two officers shot Arsisto on April 3, 2009, after she lunged at them with a metal pipe and metal skewer. One gunshot hit Arsisto in the abdomen. She has recovered from her injury.

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