A Ramsey County judge ordered a mental health evaluation Wednesday for Nosakhere Holmes, the teenager accused of fatally stabbing a classmate in a hallway at Harding High School in St. Louis. Paul.
A hearing to determine whether the 16-year-old will be certified to adult court was scheduled to take place Wednesday before Judge JaPaul Harris. Instead, Holmes’ attorney, public defender Carole Finneran, requested a Rule 20.0 exam, which is used to determine whether a defendant is capable of communicating with a defense attorney and competent to participate in criminal proceedings.
Harris said he is required to order a mental health evaluation if there is probable cause for one. He set it for May 23.
Holmes faces a charge of second degree manslaughter in the Feb. 10 death of 15-year-old Devin Scott. A juvenile petition describes an argument in the hallway between him and Scott, the assistant principal and another school employee trying to break it up. A third student then jumped into the fray and threw punches at Holmes, who stabbed Scott in the chest and abdomen.
Assistant Ramsey County Prosecutor Muteeat Lawal told the judge that the prosecution opposed the defense’s request for a Rule 20.0 examination. Lawal said the teenager “refused to participate” in a certification study several times in the past few months.
“The state’s position today is that there is a stark difference between his ability and his refusal to participate in the proceedings,” she said.
The Ramsey County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion for presumptive certification in February to have the case moved to adult court, where a conviction would likely bring a longer sentence. In a presumptive certification hearing, the defense must prove to the court by “clear and convincing evidence” why the case should not go to adult court. The court orders a study to gather background and information about the juvenile and to assist a judge in making a decision.
Parents in court
Holmes’ father and mother sat next to him at Wednesday’s hearing.
Harris denied Holmes’ mother’s request that the teenager be released from custody before the next hearing, which is scheduled for June 21. The judge also denied his father’s request to be present during the mental health examination.
Afterward, Scott’s family spoke about how much they miss the teenager, whose nickname was “Cheese,” and their personal struggles since his murder.
“We’re as strong as we can be,” said Scott’s mother, Eniesha Hammond. “We take it day by day. Our family is still struggling. We are doing everything we can, we miss our son.”
She said delays in a certification decision — Wednesday’s was the second in March — I am to be expected.
“I knew this was going to be a process,” she said. “And we’re here to support our son and we’re willing to follow suit.”
One of Scott’s older sisters, Peoria Arnold, said he had “different feelings, different emotions.”
“I want what’s best for my brother,” said Arnold, who wore a necklace with a picture of him. “It’s messed up both ways — they’re both kids and they’ve both had their lives thrown away early. I just want the right thing to happen and for him to learn from what he did.”