Judge order York competency test
By Rob Peecher
A judge issued an order
Monday requiring confessed child molester Malachi York to undergo
a psychological evaluation at a federal facility, U.S. Attorney
Max Wood confirmed.
The evaluation likely
will delay the start of York's trial, tentatively set for early
next month, said Wood.
"I can't imagine us
being ready for trial - getting (the psychological examination)
completed by Aug. 4," he said.
U.S. District Judge
Hugh Lawson's order had not been filed Monday in the U.S. District
Courthouse in Macon. Wood said he was aware of the order but had
not seen it.
York's attorney, Manny
Arora, also had not seen the order late Monday afternoon. He said
the defense had asked for an evaluation to determine York's
competency to understand the process of his federal criminal case.
"This is not an
insanity issue - this is simply to make sure he understands the
proceedings," Arora said. "The trial cannot go forward until he is
deemed to be competent."
York pleaded guilty in
January to 77 state counts dealing almost entirely with child sex
abuse charges and two federal counts involving taking children
across state lines for the purpose of having sex with them and
avoiding federal financial reporting requirements.
York has not withdrawn
his guilty pleas in either the state or federal charges, but
Lawson rejected the 15-year prison sentence agreed to during plea
negotiations between the U.S. Attorney's Office and York's
Lawson said if York
follows through with the guilty plea, he likely will be sentenced
to serve 20 years in prison, rather than 15.
Lawson also told both
sides to be ready for trial Aug. 4 in the event that York
withdraws his plea.
York's attorneys have
reported to the judge that he has been uncooperative with them,
and during a hearing in June, York told the judge he was a
sovereign American Indians, not subject to the federal laws. York
demanded that he be turned over to his "tribe" for trial.
"I think he's hanging
his hat on something that, unfortunately - as the judge asked us -
doesn't have any legal basis," Arora said.
Arora noted that
federal law does provide special considerations for American
Indians in some civil law, but American Indians are still subject
to criminal law. Also, York appears to be relying on a forged
document purporting to be signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue as proof
that he is an American Indian.
Arora said York was
initially uncooperative when a court-appointed psychologist
attempted to interview him July 4, but did cooperate during a
second interview July 7. He said he has not received the results
of that interview.
Wood declined to
comment on York's competency.
York, the leader of the
cult-like group, the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, moved from
New York to a 476-acre farm in Putnam County in 1993. Just prior
to that move, York and his followers were living on a camp in the
Catskill Mountains where they had erected at least one tepee and
were claiming American Indian heritage.
York, at the time,
referred to himself as Chief Black Eagle, and followers still
loyal to him recently have reverted back to that name. During two
recent hearings in Macon, Nuwaubians have attended wearing
American Indian-style clothing and beaded headdresses with
Since coming to Putnam
County, though, the group has claimed ancestry from ancient
Egyptians. The group also has claimed to be Muslim, Jewish and
Christian. York claimed to be from another planet and has told his
followers he is an angel. The group also has claimed to be
affiliated with Freemasons.
In 1998, Putnam County
and the Nuwaubians began a public court battle, mostly over zoning
violations, that lasted until just before York's arrest by federal
and local authorities in May 2002.
Late Monday, York was
still being held in the Jones County Jail. It was unclear what
federal facility he will be sent to. Arora guessed the evaluation
will last 30 to 45 days.