‘QAnon Shaman’ in plea negotiations after mental health diagnosis
24 July, 2021, 10:15 am
The participant in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots nicknamed the “QAnon Shaman” is negotiating a possible plea deal with prosecutors, after prison psychologists found he suffers from a variety of mental illnesses, his attorney said.
In an interview, defense lawyer Albert Watkins said that officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, have diagnosed his client Jacob Chansley with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
The BOP’s findings, which have not yet been made public, suggest Chansley’s mental condition deteriorated due to the stress of being held in solitary confinement at a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, Watkins said.
“As he spent more time in solitary confinement … the decline in his acuity was noticeable, even to an untrained eye,” Watkins said in an interview on Thursday.
He said Chansley’s 2006 mental health records from his time in the U.S. Navy show a similar diagnosis to the BOP’s.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on the case.
Chansley is one of the most recognizable of the hundreds of Donald Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol after the then-president in a fiery speech falsely claimed that his November election defeat was the result of fraud.
Chansley, of Arizona, was photographed inside the Capitol wearing a horned headdress, shirtless and heavily tattooed. He is a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory that casts Trump as a savior figure and elite Democrats as a cabal of Satanist pedophiles and cannibals.
He faces charges including civil disorder and obstructing an official proceeding.
Watkins did not say what Chansley was considering pleading guilty to, but defendants negotiating plea deals typically seek to plead to a less serious charge to reduce their potential prison sentences.
Watkins said authorities will need to determine how Chansley can get access to the treatment he needs to “actively participate in his own defense.” Pleading guilty to a charge negates the need for a trial, but defendants still have to be declared mentally competent to do so.
Watkins said the BOP’s evaluation of his client did not declare Chansley to be mentally incompetent, and he does not expect Chansley to be ordered to undergo what is known as competency restoration treatment.
‘CHOCOLATE SOUP MESS’
Watkins said his client has expressed some delusions including “believing that he was indeed related directly to Jesus and Buddha.”