Man Accused of Sexually Abusing Peacock Declared Unfit For Trial

CC image Wikipedia.orgAn Illinois man accused of sexually abusing a peacock was declared mentally unfit to stand trial, a DuPage County judge ruled last week.

David Beckman, 64, of Roselle, was found mentally unfit for trial after psychological tests found that he was unable to comprehend legal matters and was unresponsive to questioning. Also citing a history of mental abuse and stress caused as a war veteran, Judge Alex McGimpsey decided that Beckman was in need of psychiatric care before he could stand trial.

Beckman will be transferred to the Illinois Department of Human Services for his treatment. The court hopes to restore Beckman to fitness within a year.

Alleged Abuse

According to the police report, Beckman was booked on misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty, battery, and attempted indecent solicitation of a child. On the charges of soliciting a child, prosecutors allege that Beckman asked a teen boy to “feel him up.”

He is also being looked into for the death of his pet peacock, Phyl. Investigators say Beckman sexually abused the peacock, which has later found dead in the garage.

Beckman’s next court date is set for July 25.

Attorney Miriam Szatrowski comments

Anyone charged with a crime has a right to be fit for a trial, plea, or sentencing hearing. In Illinois, a person who is unable to understand the proceedings and assist in his or her defense because of a mental or physical condition is unfit. If anyone involved in the case – the defense attorney, the prosecutor, or the judge – has a bona fide doubt as to a defendant’s fitness, the issue must be resolved before moving forward with the criminal case.

In these situations, a psychologist will evaluate the defendant, and then a hearing will be held. If the judge finds that the defendant is not fit to stand trial, and that the defendant is likely to be restored to fitness within a year, then the defendant can be ordered to undergo treatment. The treatment ordered must be in the least restrictive setting possible.

In this case, the judge found the defendant unfit due to mental illness. He was ordered to undergo treatment in a locked, inpatient facility, so the judge must have made a finding that a less secure setting would not be appropriate. It is not clear what led the judge to make this finding in this particular case, but it is usually done when the defendant is unwilling or unable to cooperate with an outpatient treatment plan. The defendant will stay in the secure facility until he is found fit, or he is there for one year, whichever comes first.

Related source: Daily Herald

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