Anael Castro-Hernandez slipped away from deputies August 25th, 2014 on his way to get results from a mental evaluation that took 10 months to complete. That is five times the average evaluation period.
Prosecutors have one year to try to prosecute Castro- Hernandez on three counts of rape. The clock started when he was arrested May of 2013 but court documents show the case was put on hold for 10 months while the judge waited for a mental evaluation.
The director of the state hospital, Dr. Steven Domon says the average case takes six to eight weeks to complete.
He could not speak specifically about Castro-Hernandez or his case but he explained multiple factors could lead to a longer wait time such as needing a translator or additional records. His overarching concern was how the lack of manpower is impacting efforts to tackle the state's stack of mental evaluation orders.
"It's a fairly daunting task. I can understand where sheriffs become frustrated, attorneys become frustrated, we at the hospital become frustrated because it's a large problem," says Dr. Domon.
Waiting for his mental evaluation also kept Castro-Hernandez in the Pulaski County jail for more than a year, much longer than the average stay which is roughly 50 days. While his serious charges are a major contributing factor, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office explained the jail is not built for long-term stays.
Dr. Domon says he would like to see twice the amount of qualified personnel and a higher pay rate for state hospital exams. DHS authorizes $500 for evaluation and expert testimony but But Dr. Domon says many forensic experts can make thousands doing the same work for a private attorney.
Dr. Domon says he plans to request more funding to help raise the pay rate for experts and bring on additional contractors in the next legislative session.
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