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Man found unfit for trial over Ten Commandments destruction

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A Ten Commandments monument outside the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., is blocked off after Michael Tate Reed crashed into it with a vehicle, less than 24 hours after the privately funded monument was installed on the Capitol grounds.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. >> A man charged with crashing his vehicle into Arkansas’ Ten Commandments display nearly three years after he was accused of destroying a monument at Oklahoma’s Capitol was found mentally unfit today to go to trial.

A Pulaski County judge found Michael Tate Reed unfit to proceed based on a diagnosis by state doctors and ordered him to be held by the state hospital for further evaluation. Circuit Judge Chris Piazza set a September 2018 hearing on Reed’s mental status.

Reed faces a felony criminal mischief charge for destroying Arkansas’ privately funded Ten Commandments statue in late June, less than 24 hours after it had been installed outside the state Capitol. Reed was arrested in the 2014 destruction of Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument, but prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges in that case.

Reed’s relatives say he has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a chronic mental health condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and manic behavior.

“We met him in jail. He’s a very sick person, and this is the right outcome,” Robert Hodge, an attorney for Reed, told reporters after the hearing.

Reed did not speak during the brief hearing and hugged family members outside the courtroom afterward.

In a live video he posted on his Facebook page, Reed yelled “freedom!” as he crashed his vehicle into Arkansas’ monument in late June. The monument fell and broke into multiple pieces as it hit the ground.

Arkansas’ monument is a replica of a display at the Texas Capitol that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. After Oklahoma’s monument was destroyed in 2014, a replacement was erected but then ordered removed by that state’s Supreme Court, which determined its location on state property violated a constitutional prohibition on the use of state funds to support a religion.

The sponsor of the 2015 law requiring Arkansas to allow the privately funded monument on Capitol grounds said a replacement has been made but has not said when it will be installed. A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said the display would have to go back before the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission to review if it makes any changes or additions from the original display.

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