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Posted at 03:53 PM ET, 01/23/2012

Mental health evaluation sought for suspected East Coast Rapist

The lawyer for the suspected “East Coast Rapist” has asked a Prince William County court to order a mental health evaluation for the man allegedly linked to sexual assaults dating back to the 1990s.

Aaron Thomas, 40, has been held at Prince William’s Adult Detention Center awaiting trial since he arrived in November. He is suspected in a series of attacks that began in Maryland in the late 1990s and continued in Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island over more than a decade.

Thomas’s court-appointed lawyer, Ronald W. Fahy, has asked the court to require the evaluation for Thomas’ “competency to stand trial” because he has “engaged in self-destructive behavior and refuses to communicate with defense counsel,” according to the motion.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert said in an interview that a scheduled preliminary hearing for this week would be moved back to March. Ebert said a mental health professional would be appointed and evaluate whether Thomas’ mental health is adequate to stand trial.

In Prince William, Thomas is charged in connection with a Halloween 2009 attack on three teenage girls.

In that case, police say a man attacked two of the girls in the darkness and rain. The third girl was able to secretly text her mother and call police, who interrupted the rapes but narrowly missed nabbing the suspect as he fled through the woods.

DNA collected from the Halloween attacks linked them to a string of rapes throughout the Washington region and in New England.

Fahy also has asked that an additional attorney be appointed to represent Thomas.

By  |  03:53 PM ET, 01/23/2012

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