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Insanity Plea Entered in Officer Assault at Jo-Ann Fabrics

Marleaux Milton Webb, 24, was not criminally responsible at the time he attacked and disarmed Bloomfield Township police officers, court finds.

 

The Pontiac man charged with assaulting Bloomfield Township police officers during an altercation at the Jo-Ann Fabrics store in May recently pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple felony offenses, court officials said.

The decision is somewhat unique and essentially ends the criminal prosecution of Webb, who in turn agreed to a civil commitment to a psychiatric facility for further evaluation and treatment, Webb’s attorney Markeisha Di'Ann Washington said.

He is technically in custody, but with the Michigan Department of Community Mental Health (MDCMH), which will provide treatment for undisclosed issues at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in York Township, near Ypsilanti.

"This will give the mental health professionals an opportunity to get him to the point where he can be back into society, and with the tools he needs," Washington said.

The incident

Officers responded to the store at about 6 p.m. May 8 after receiving calls from employees about a man who was wandering and acting strangely in the store for roughly two to three hours, police reports said. Two officers found the man, later identified as Webb, sitting in the sewing area on the store's second floor.

He initially told officers he was involved in a "crash down the road" and became very agitated when officers said they were not aware of any crash and told him to leave the store. Police said Webb made multiple attempts for an officer's weapon before he broke free and jumped from the second floor and fled. He was arrested about a quarter-mile away. No officers suffered serious injuries.

Prosecutors charged Webb, 24, with multiple counts of assaulting and obstructing a police officer and assault with a dangerous weapon for the  incident. He also faced single counts of assaulting an officer resulting in injury, and disarming an officer, and was ordered to the Oakland County Jail without bond.

The case

Webb formally waived his right to preliminary hearing in 48th District Court and underwent a psychiatric evaluation at Forensic Center over the summer, records show. Doctors tested Washington's understanding of the criminal court process and deemed him competent to stand trial. However, they also determined that he was not criminally responsible at the time of the incident, Washington said. 

She explained that legally, Webb did not understand that what he was doing at the time was a criminal act and that he did not have criminal intent when confronted by the officers.

Court records show Washington and prosecutors began working on the resolution last month with Oakland County Circuit Judge Wendy Potts. Webb did not address Potts during his final pre-trial hearing last Wednesday, Washington said, and prosecutors did not contest the doctor's report or Webb's plea.

Washington said Webb's commitment remains indefinite and will be determined by officials with MDCMH. He remained in the Oakland County Jail as of Friday.

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