By Josh Liang
Charged in connection with the disappearances of Enrique Rios and Elijah Moore in June of last year, 22-year-old Chandale Dontray Shannon, Jr.,’s mental capacity to stand trial is now being put into question.
Just one of four Woodland residents charged with murder, Mr. Shannon was believed to have been present on the nights of October 17 and November 4 of 2016 when he, along with David Ashley Froste, age 28, brother Jonathan “Jay” Froste, age 22, and one Jesus Campos, age 19, reportedly lured and kidnapped their victims before disposing of their bodies in an as-of-yet undisclosed location. The murder was believed to be a premeditated retaliation in response to a drug robbery that Moore had committed against the suspects and after Rios had refused to bate Moore into a murder. The FBI and Woodland PD have extended their search for the remains of Rios and Moore to Knights Landing and its surrounding areas.
A mental health diagnosis has prevented a proper way forward for Mr. Shannon. Declared mentally incompetent to stand trial last year by his attorney Bob Spangler, a following competency hearing was ordered by the court.
During the hearing, the clinical psychologist who had evaluated the defendant’s mental condition last year, once again took the stand. When asked by Mr. Spangler on the diagnosis he had attributed the defendant after his psych evaluation last year, the psychologist replied it was his belief that the defendant placed somewhere along the autism spectrum. In addition, he believed Mr. Shannon’s mental health issues were compounded by the presence of several substance use disorders. The psychologist summarized the defendant’s diagnosis as a sort of “neurocognitive disorder.”
Mr. Spangler inquired about the societal impairments of autism, and the psychologist replied that individuals afflicted with the disorder tend to stay within themselves, avoiding interpersonal relationships whenever possible. When asked if breaks from reality are recurring symptoms, the psychologist replied that, while autism manifesting in early childhood could be perceived as a psychotic break, the two are generally independent of one another. He stated that memory issues, particularly lapses in short term processing, were not typically issues seen with the autistic spectrum. The psychologist highlighted the cognitive issues Mr. Shannon supposedly suffered from, believing them to be the result of cannabis use.
Following a brief afternoon recess, the court called forth the prosecution. Walking through the defendant’s arrest record, the diagnosis was called into question. The psychologist restated his belief that the defendant’s cognitive abilities had not recovered to the extent where he could speak in complete sentences, much less stand trial. When asked about the defendant’s current cognitive standing, the psychologist stated his belief that Mr. Shannon was most likely aware that he is in a court of law, that Mr. Spangler was in his corner and that the prosecution stood against him.
When asked if there was anything in Mr. Shannon’s record that suggested a violent history, the psychologist denied this. The prosecution then asked if the psychologist would be surprised to hear that the defendant had supposedly constructed a makeshift bomb during middle school. The defense attorney objected, stating that it was irrelevant information. The court allowed the questioning to continue. The psychologist replied that he had been aware but it was his belief that the defendant’s bomb-making habits had been one of mischief rather than intention to “bomb his middle school.”
The prosecution then asked if he was aware that during interviews with investigations, there were multiple instances in which Mr. Shannon demonstrated considerable cognitive efficacy such as attention to detail. The prosecution then asked for permission to display several audio snippets taken from various conversations Mr. Shannon had. The conversations appeared to showcase the defendant speaking in full sentences as well as having a basic understanding of legal terms.
The preliminary hearing is set to resume in August of 2019.