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Judge orders competency evaluation for ‘QAnon Shaman’ after attorney questions mental abilities of some Jan. 6 defendants

Jacob Anthony Chansley is confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C.
Jacob Anthony Chansley is confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
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A federal judge on Friday ordered a mental health evaluation for Jacob Anthony Chansley, often referred to as the “QAnon Shaman,” after his lawyer questioned whether one of the most visible participants in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol is competent to stand trial.

Chansley, 33, of Phoenix, was widely photographed shirtless and wearing horns, a fur-lined headdress and face paint while carrying a flag-draped spear in the Capitol, where he sat in the vice president’s chair after the Senate chamber was evacuated.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered a psychological examination after attorney Albert Watkins said months in detention have taken their toll on Chansley, who is charged with trespassing and violent and disorderly conduct at the Capitol.

Attorney for ‘QAnon Shaman’ questions mental abilities of his client, others in Jan. 6 riot

“My goal and objective is to put him in a position where he does not decline, and [for him] to receive to the extent possible the health care that’s needed,” Watkins said.

He called the continuing isolation and confinement of inmates for 22 hours per day under coronavirus pandemic safety requirements “something even obviously the healthiest of individuals would find challenging.”

Prosecutors did not oppose the evaluation, but said they could challenge any incompetency finding.

Watkins this week told Talking Points Memo that his client and many others were vulnerable to believing false claims about election fraud from former president Donald Trump.

“These are people with brain damage. . . . These aren’t bad people,” Watkins said.

The order puts the case on hold while Chansley is transferred to a federal facility and evaluated.

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