Trial in assault of NewsWorks photographer delayed yet again

A second psychiatric evaulation has found Cassie Darby not competent to stand trial for the alleged assault of a NewsWorks freelance photographer, according to court records.

Darby, 49, was arrested in late May in connection to an attack that unfolded on a SEPTA Route 23 bus.

The roughly 15-second incident, captured by surveillance cameras, shows a woman repeatedly hitting a seated male passenger over the head shortly after she’s seen boarding the bus.

A legal labyrinth

An Aug. 31 psychiatric evalation deemed Darby competent to stand trial, but a courtroom outburst just over a month later prompted a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge to order a second evaluation.

During the Oct. 3 proceedings, Darby learned of a plea bargain that included six to 23 months of jailtime. Prosecutors claimed the news sparked Darby’s vocal protest.

As a result of the second evaluation, handed down late Monday, Darby will be committed to the forensic unit of the Philadelphia Detention Center for 30 days, according to court records.

A status hearing to has been set for Nov. 16.

Victim reacts

Bas Slabbers said he was upset about the most recent outcome in a case for which he has already appeared in court on three seperate occasions.

“I trust the judge’s skills, but it strikes me as odd that the defendant doesn’t seem fit,” Slabbers noted. “Her behavior she showed before her outburst gave me the feeling she knows what goes on around her.

“She sat quietly while waiting for her trial to start. I believe she even followed what was going on and it seemed to me she understood it all. I understand that this is a regular procedure, but it just feels awkward to me that I still don’t know why I got punched in my face that day on the 23.”

Willis Stamps, an assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, could not be reached for comment.

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