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Judge orders defendant's mouth taped shut


Last Edited: April 21, 2009, 5:52 pm

Inmate duct taped

Nicklas Frasure

POCATELLO -- The first hint that Nicklas Frasure's hearing was going to be unusual came at the outset when the man attempted to fire his court-appointed counsel. It eventually culminated with the man's mouth bound with duct tape in an attempt to quell his frequent and irrational outbursts.

Frasure, 23, appeared before Sixth District Judge Peter D. McDermott Monday morning for an evidentiary hearing on reports of a probation violation for a 2008 felony theft conviction. Frasure's counsel, Kent Reynolds, requested near the outset that his client undergo a competency exam, a point Frasure hotly contested.
"I'm totally fine," Frasure said. "I have a sense of humor. I'm not bad looking. I can walk on my hands."

Frasure's tangential and odd comments persisted throughout the hearing, with his mood rapidly changing from incredulity to outrage to apparent mirth regarding his court appearance. At one point, Frasure referred to his appearance as a form of "terrorism."
"I'm not only innocent, but a victim," Frasure said. "I need to be released."

McDermott, whose general demeanor toward defendants is patient and gentle, tried unsuccessfully on numerous occasions to quiet Frasure's insistent non sequiturs until after the prosecutor and his own attorney had concluded.
Frasure's mother took the stand to describe her son's behavior, including escalating bouts of drinking and erratic behavior. The woman said Frasure had been much better after his release from State Hospital South in Blackfoot in October but had quit taking his medications shortly after his discharge.

"The last two months he started being really bizarre," the woman said.
The woman described how her son had calmly told her that a voice had told him to "take a shotgun and blow your head off."

The presence of his mother on the stand increased Frasure's outbursts, many of them referring to his needless persecution and his religious faith. Frasure continued to interrupt the proceedings, asking his mother to admit to murder.
McDermott continued to warn Frasure to no avail about his outbursts and told him he would have a chance to address the court and pose questions of witnesses. He finally threatened to duct tape the man's mouth if he did not be quiet.

After several more lengthy and jumbled outbursts and additional warnings about a gag being employed, McDermott finally indicated he'd had enough, ordering the bailiffs to duct tape the man's mouth. The proceedings halted for several minutes while bailiffs retrieved the tape, tore a piece from the roll and applied it over the man's mouth.
Reynold's renewed his request for a competency exam.

"He's obviously not mentally competent," Reynolds said.
McDermott told Reynolds he would continue to take the request under advisement and continued the evidentiary hearing. Frasure continued to speak throughout the hearing despite the gag, insistently asking his mother if she were guilty of murder.

"I don't know how to proceed when Mr. Frasure is totally psychotically disabled," Reynolds said, causing McDermott to ask the woman if she felt her son was mentally ill and might harm her. The woman replied "yes" to both questions.
Frasure's probation officer, Julie Guiberson, took the stand and opined that the man was a threat to both himself and others, and particularly to his mother.

"He is probably the most mentally unstable person I have ever supervised," Guiberson said.

Guiberson noted that one of the probation provisions that Frasure was alleged to have violated was a requirement to take all prescribed medications. She said that Frasure had admitted to having stopped taking his medications due to side effects.

At the close of the hearing, Frasure's gag was removed and he again engaged in a rambling discourse. McDermott thanked the man for his comments.

McDermott declined to make a determination regarding Frasure's alleged probation violations, deciding to commit the man to a secure Department of Correction facility in Boise for evaluation and treatment rather than the non-secure facility in Blackfoot.

"I want to see you get better," McDermott told Frasure.

"You want to arm wrestle?" was Frasure's reply before being led from the courtroom by bailiffs.


By John Bulger


This document was originally published online on Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Entry #371


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