Judge OK’s fitness test for parolee accused of hitting officers – LaSalle News Tribune

PRINCETON — A Spring Valley man who is accused of going on a rampage against two women and several police officers in August will undergo a hearing to determine whether he’s mentally fit to assist in his defense.

Jose L. Arteaga, 37, was paroled from prison just three weeks before the incident Aug. 21 in which he allegedly assaulted two females in his Spring Valley apartment then attempted to take on police officers who were called to the scene.

In the end, the heavily sweating and blood-covered defendant was taken into custody by a half-dozen law enforcement officers.

He’s charged with three counts of aggravated battery, a Class 2 felony, for continuing to kick at police officers after he was handcuffed, striking Spring Valley Police Chief Kevin Sangston, Spring Valley Deputy Chief Bill Sommer and Officer Josh Pellegrini in their legs. If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of up to 6-30 years.

During a hearing that was to serve as his final pre-trial, Public Defender Michael Henneberry requested Judge C.J. Hollerich order a fitness evaluation because Henneberry said Arteaga has been so far unwilling or unable to assist in his own defense.

Henneberry said each time he has met with his client, who has been housed in La Salle County Jail, Arteaga has had ‘intense emotional outbursts’ which is interfering with Henneberry’s ability to prepare his defense. “He doesn’t sleep,” Henneberry said, “He paces his cell at night when he should be sleeping.”

“His symptoms seem consistent with manic behavior,” Henneberry said, adding, “I can’t get him to answer questions. He seems to understand the role of people in the court, but doesn’t seem to have the ability to control or assist in preparing for his trial.”

Hollerich, after a brief consideration, said he would grant the motion for a Springfield doctor to evaluate Arteaga, though he agreed that the man seems to have a firm understanding of the role everyone is playing in his case.

“My own observation of his demeanor, he does seem to be aware of court personnel,” the judge said. “I have had some contact with Mr. Arteaga in the past, although the distant past, and his demeanor always has been emphatic and he says things fast, but I never necessarily attributed that to fitness questions.”

In the end, Hollerich said it was in the best interest of the proceedings to defer to Henneberry’s request. “We’ll see what the results of the evaluation are,” he said.

Arteaga is held on $150,000 bond, 10% of which would need to be applied for release. However he has a department of corrections hold due to violating parole for a drug conviction.

Kim Shute can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or [email protected] Twitter: NT_Princeton2.

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