Back in July, as Maruice Clemmons was awaiting trial on charges of child rape and assaulting a sheriff's deputy, he informed a Pierce County court that he intended to pursue a defense in which he would claim "insanity and/or temporarily experiencing diminished mental capacity at the time of the offense." (Click to enlarge.)

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  • Pierce County Superior Court

That was July 30 of this year.

In response, Pierce County prosecutors asked that Clemmons be evaluated by Western State Hospital.

On November 6, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck, relying on a report from two Western State psychiatrists, found Clemmons "competent to understand the present criminal proceedings against him, and to assist in his own defense."

However, Clemmons and his lawyer still believed he was seriously troubled. (Click to enlarge.)

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  • Pierce County Superior Court

That same day, Nov. 6, they told the court that Clemmons needed "additional time for insanity/diminished capacity defense evaluations."

In other words, even as Western State and a Pierce County judge were deeming him "competent," Clemmons was arguing that he was—or had recently been—criminally insane.

In response, Judge van Doorninck ordered Clemmons back down to Western State for an additional 15-day examination. Whatever the result, he must not have been deemed too dangerous to let back out into society; Clemmons was released on bail a couple of weeks later.

As we look at the trail of events that led to the shootings Clemmons is now wanted for, it's worth keeping in mind that he told authorities—twice—that he believed he was (or had recently been) criminally insane.

UPDATE: I've modified this post slightly to take into account the good points made by several commenters about the distinctions between competency, insanity, and diminished capacity in criminal proceedings.

Also, I should add that the court record suggests Clemmons was ordered to Western State at different times for different things.

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On August 5, Judge Ronald Culpepper ordered Clemmons to be evaluated for his relative competency (at present) as well as for his potential insanity and/or diminished capacity (at the time of his alleged crimes). On September 29, a judge—whose name is unclear in the court record—ordered Western State to test Clemmons for competency alone. And then, on Nov. 6, Judge van Doorninck ordered Clemmons tested for potential insanity and diminished capacity alone.

I think the safest thing to take away from all of this is that Clemmons was, at the very least, claiming repeated recent lapses into criminal instability after a long history of trouble with the law—and yet ended up back out on the street.

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