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Appalachian Trail Murder Suspect 'Unfit for Trial'

James Jordan will be sent to federal facility
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2019 3:34 AM CDT
This Saturday, May 11, 2019 booking photo provided by the Washington County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office shows James L. Jordan, of West Yarmouth, Mass.   (Washington County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office)
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(Newser) – The man accused of killing a hiker with a machete in a terrifying attack on the Appalachian Trail in May is not mentally competent to stand trial, a federal judge in Virginia decided Wednesday. Federal magistrate judge Pamela Sargent said James Jordan, 30, will be sent to a federal medical facility "in an attempt to restore him to competence," WJHL reports. Authorities say the Massachusetts man killed 43-year-old Ronald Sanchez in the May 11 attack and seriously injured a female hiker, who played dead to survive.

In an affidavit, an FBI agent wrote that hours before the attack, Jordan behaved in a "disturbed and unstable" manner when he approached four hikers before the attack, including the two who were later stabbed. "Jordan spoke to the hikers through their tents, and threatened to pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death," the agent wrote. (Nobody was willing to testify against Jordan after he was arrested weeks before the attack for threatening hikers.)

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