The Southeast Washington woman suspected of killing her 6-year-old son continues to have "threatening" hallucinations that tell her to do things she does not want to do, a psychiatrist said in court papers filed this week.
Julia Barber contemplates suicide when she hears such voices, according to Erlinda Casuga-Marquez of St. Elizabeths Hospital. The assessment was filed as part of a city petition to continue holding Barber at the psychiatric facility for evaluation and treatment.
Barber, 27, has been hospitalized since July 19, a day after the body of her son, Donmiguel Nathaniel Wilson Jr., was discovered facedown in a water-filled bathtub in her apartment on Wheeler Road SE. Donmiguel's ankles and wrists had been bound. No charges have been filed as prosecutors assess Barber's mental condition and other factors.
Barber, who has a history of mental illness, has a psychotic disorder, Casuga-Marquez wrote. A patient with a psychotic disorder has a personality that is seriously disorganized, and contact with reality usually is impaired.
Initially placed on a one-on-one suicide watch for 48 hours, Barber is no longer considered a high-risk patient and has been placed under less intensive supervision, the doctor's report said.
According to police officials, Barber, who was not home when her mother found Donmiguel's body, admitted killing the boy. But her mental illness became apparent to her interrogators, and the city obtained an emergency court order to hospitalize her.
Since then, law enforcement authorities have grappled with potential legal issues raised by the police questioning. At least once during the videotaped interrogation, Barber indicated that she wanted to leave, but police kept up the questioning, law enforcement officials said. That could jeopardize the admissibility of her statements as evidence in court.
But any charges are uncertain, given the unanswered questions about her mental illness, legal experts said.
Barber was scheduled for a hearing Aug. 16 before the District's Commission on Mental Health, which will consider the evidence and decide whether it means Barber is a danger to herself or others.
If the commission, made up of a judge and two mental health professionals, finds that Barber is a danger, it will recommend that she be committed to St. Elizabeths for as long as a year. She and her attorneys could contest the recommendation, which would lead to a trial.
During her initial interview with a District psychiatrist, Barber fell asleep several times, made little eye contact and spoke in very low tones. Frequently, she spoke to herself instead of answering the psychiatrist's questions, and when Barber did respond to questions, her answers often were inappropriate, according to the documents.
Family members buried Donmiguel this week, and even as they prayed for the soul of the little boy, they prayed, too, for his mother.