By Joe Johnson
An Athens man who has been hospitalized in a state psychiatric facility since killing his brother and stabbing his mother nearly four years ago has been deemed not guilty by reason of insanity.
Western Judicial Circuit Judge Lisa Lott issued her ruling Friday, following a bench hearing in Clarke County Superior Court.
The judge ruled that 23-year-old Malachi Qaadir Dorns was not guilty by reason of insanity for the crimes of malice and felony murder, and two counts each of aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony.
The murder-assault occurred on May 11,2018, when Athens-Clarke County police said that Dorns fatally stabbed his 29-year-old brother, Muniyr Gay, and stabbed his mother multiple times during a 1dispute at the family’s Cumberland Court home. Gail Dorns survived her injuries.
A Clarke County grand jury subsequently returned an indictment charging Dorns with malice and felony murder and two counts each of aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony.
In March 2019, Lott ordered Dorns to be sent to East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta for psychological evaluation and treatment.
The order came after doctors testified that they believed Dorns could be restored to mental competency through treatment.
However, during a subsequent court hearing, doctors testified that even though Dorns had been “compliant” with taking his medications and with his DBHDD treatment team, they determined that Dorns’ mental health had deteriorated.
The doctors testified that “such decompensation could be due to the severity of (Dorns’) mental illness…or just the biology of his disease,” the judge wrote in her order that was signed on Jan. 3, 2020.
Lott then ordered Dorns to be returned from the county jail to a DBHDD facility “to evaluate (Dorns) as to whether there is a substantial probability that he will attain mental competency to stand trial in the foreseeable future, and to initiate inpatient competency restoration of (Dorns) if appropriate.”
Despite being in custody most of the time of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Dorns will still need to have an additional hearing within 30 days of the judge’s order, at which time Lott would consider testimony from other sources, including the GDBHDD’s evaluation to determine Dorns’ present mental capacity.
“Defendants in this posture are still under the jurisdiction of the Court and are not at liberty,” the judge said.
In determining that Dorns was not guilty by reason of insanity, Lott ruled that she relied on testimony from Dr. Christian S. Hildreth of the DBHDD, who on Friday testified that he had diagnosed the defendant with schizophrenia.
“He opined that (Dorns) was in the throes of an ‘acute episode’ at the time of the incident,” Lott stated in her ruling. “Among other things, Dr. Hildreth believed that (Dorns’) was so out of character with his behavior at the time of the incident during other moments of stress that he was not criminally responsible, that it supported his conclusion that he was not criminally responsible when he stabbed his brother and assaulted his mother."