Accused Casper Hostage-Taker Found Incompetent, Sent to State Hospital for Further Evaluation
The man accused of holding a hostage at knife-point inside a Casper government building last year was declared incompetent to stand trial Thursday morning in Natrona County District Court. He will spend about two months at the Wyoming State Hospital while doctors determine whether he could again be deemed fit to proceed.
David Michael Chavis, 36, was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault and possession of a deadly weapon with intent to threaten the life of another. Conviction on all counts could send him to prison for 20 years to life.
Charging documents say at 8:45 a.m. on Aug. 5, 2016, Chavis entered the office of the Attorney General's Medical Review Panel at 800 Werner Court. He allegedly took a 51-year-old man hostage with a box-cutter.
The building was evacuated, and the Natrona County Special Response Team, along with the Hostage Negotiation Team, handled the incident.
Chavis was arrested shortly before 12 p.m., and the victim was released unharmed.
This marks Chavis' third mental evaluation, requested by Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen, who represented the state in court Thursday morning.
Two officers of the Natrona County Special Operations Response Team -- essentially a version of the Special Response Team exclusively assigned to the jail -- stood behind Chavis throughout Thursday's hearing before Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey.
Forgey found Chavis "lacks the mental fitness to proceed at this time," after Blonigen pointed to "substantial issues" raised in the most recent evaluation.
Toward the end of the hearing, Chavis spoke out, asking that proceedings be continued and the hearing be vacated.
"I've already been locked up for a year," Chavis said, adding that he is set to see a psychiatrist and has already been to the state hospital, where he said he was found competent.
He asked that he not be returned to the state hospital, saying, "That would be fourteen months and I haven't even been able to be arraigned yet." Chavis also asked that Forgey review "packets" which Chavis submitted to the court.
Forgey responded by noting the 60-day period he ordered for evaluation at the state hospital is shorter than the period provided for in state statute, which is 90 days. He also said he has reviewed Chavis' submissions.
In those papers, Chavis says he has been deemed "mentally stable" by the state hospital. He also claims to be the victim of a "super conspiracy" run by state authorities.
"For me to receive a fair trial in state court/prove my innocence: I will need a federal judge requested for formally and officially require Casper, WY's [sic] DCI agency to answer as to said/alleged records and grant me a 90 day temp. [sic] injunction to protect and uphold my constitutional rights while my atty [sic] and I "re-locate my records" -- which were evidence illegally taken from the scene," Chavis wrote.
"And my rights continue to be violated by the state govt. [sic] law enforcement agency 'The Division of Criminal Investigation' of Casper, WY -- through a 'super conspiracy' which incorporates 24 hr-round the clock [sic] 'investigative/surveillance' work and experiments on me and my person using and employing 'non-routine investigative and surveillance techniques, while communicating to the public through these same techniques or other methods as to how they may entrap me and ultimately thwart my life, liberties and freedom," Chavis' May 17 letter reads in part.
Forgey ordered Chavis remanded to the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston while the evaluation to determine whether he can regain fitness to stand trial is conducted. That evaluation will also examine whether medication would help in that effort and, if so, the circumstances under which it should be administered.
Public defender Kerri Johnson told the court that Chavis has been taking his medication as prescribed while incarcerated at the Natrona County Detention Center. She noted that he objects to further treatment, and believes he is competent to proceed.
Prosecutors previously said Chavis has a lengthy criminal history, dating back to when he was 13 years old, which includes several cases filed in Natrona County District Court.