A Somali man charged with second-degree murder following his involvement in a fatal motorcycle accident is being evaluated to determine his competency to stand trial.
Bashir Omar, 31, 312 W. Mary St., was originally scheduled for a second appearance before District Judge Robert Frederick on Dec 4. The hearing was rescheduled to Dec. 14 and again to Dec. 20 after court officials had difficulties finding a Somali translator. Court officials have noted that Omar speaks “no English.”
Now, according to Court Administrator Kurtis Jacobs, his competency to stand trial is being evaluated following an approved motion by defense counsel Lucille Douglass of Garden City, and a status hearing has been set for Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. to see if a conclusion has been reached.
If a person is deemed incompetent to stand trial, they can’t be convicted of a crime because courts require competency before a defendant stands trial to ensure fair proceedings, also known as due process.
According to Nolo, a legal press and advocacy group, competency to stand trial is legally unrelated to a defendant’s mental state at the time he or she commits a crime. Among factors of consideration in determining competency are the defendant’s abilities to communicate with defense counsel, understand and process information, make decisions regarding the case, and understand the charges and possible penalties.
Nolo contends that a defendant’s intelligence, education level, language difficulty and challenges communicating are generally insufficient to support an incompetency finding.
Omar was charged with second-degree murder in October after fatally rear-ending 67-year-old Robert Becker in the 2400 block of Fleming Street. Becker was southbound on Fleming in a 2009 Kawasaki motorcycle when Omar allegedly struck him from behind. Becker was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police say Omar showed signs of impairment when officers made contact with him and conducted a field sobriety test. He now faces charges of second-degree murder, reckless driving and DUI.
According to a police affidavit, Omar was intoxicated by a combination of alcohol and something similar to betel nuts, a potent stimulant found in parts of east Africa and Asia.
During a police interview conducted with the assistance of a Somali translator on Oct. 8, Omar was read his Miranda rights and consented to speak without an attorney present. Omar said he saw the motorcycle prior to impact, but added that the motorcycle “stopped suddenly” without any indication of a brake light or turn signal.
Omar said at no time during the accident did he take his foot off of his accelerator, according to the affidavit. He added that it was “the will of God” that the accident occurred.