A D.C. Superior Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a case against a Chinese woman who was arrested in 2013 for allegedly splattering green paint on D.C. landmarks, determining that she was incompetent to stand trial.
In July 2013, Jiamei Tian, 50, was charged with one count of defacing property after the paint was found spattered in Washington National Cathedral. She was suspected in similar incidents at the Lincoln Memorial and Luther Place Memorial Church as well as on statues next to the Smithsonian Castle and Martin Luther’s in Thomas Circle.
A month after her arrest, Tian was ordered to go to St. Elizabeths Hospital, the District’s psychiatric facility.
After various examinations in 2013 and 2014, D.C. psychiatrists determined that Tian was incompetent and would not regain competency.
In November, Judge John McCabe accepted the psychiatrists’ ruling and found Tian incompetent. A month later, the District’s Department of Behavioral Health declined to order Tian committed to St. Elizabeths under inpatient or outpatient care.
Prosecutors said that Tian was in the United States from China on an expired visa. At the time of her arrest, she was living in a D.C. park.
At Tuesday’s hearing, McCabe ordered Tian released from the hospital. That decision was expected, since Tian’s public defenders last month requested additional time to make arrangements for her upon her expected release.
After the hearing, Tian’s attorneys declined to discuss those arrangements.
Prosecutors within the U.S. attorney’s office who handled the case said they were “disappointed” in the District’s decision not to order Tian committed. “We don’t have any control to say otherwise,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Connolly said.
In court Tuesday, Tian, who was brought there from the hospital, stood next to her attorneys and a Mandarin interpreter.
McCabe said, “Good morning,” and Tian responded with “Good morning” in English. When the judge asked how she was doing, the interpreter relayed Tian’s response: “I’m slugging along.”
After he dismissed the case, McCabe made one final comment to Tian: “Take good care of yourself.”
Tian nodded and smiled as she was escorted out of the courtroom by U.S. marshals.
Tian’s attorneys from the D.C. Public Defender Service declined to comment on Tian’s future or how the court decision affects her status in the United States.