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Man charged in Appalachian Trail killing found incompetent

July 3, 2019
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James Jordan, 30, had a competency hearing Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at the U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va., where tests concluded that he was not mentally fit for trial. Jordan, from Massachusetts, was arrested in May for the murder of a hiker along the Appalachian Trail. (David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP)

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A Massachusetts man accused of fatally stabbing a hiker on the Appalachian Trial is not mentally fit to stand trial, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

James L. Jordan, 30, of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, was charged with murder and assault with intent to commit murder in the knife attack on two hikers on the Appalachian Trial in southwestern Virginia on May 11.

Ronald Sanchez Jr., 43, of Oklahama, died after being stabbed repeatedly, and a female hiker was seriously hurt.

An FBI agent wrote in an affidavit filed in court that Jordan was acting in a “disturbed and unstable” manner when he initially approached four hikers along the trail.

“Jordan spoke to the hikers through their tents, and threatened to pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death,” FBI Special Agent Micah Childers wrote.

All four hikers were afraid of Jordan and packed up to leave their campsite. Two of them escaped, but Jordan caught Sanchez and stabbed him until he collapsed, then stabbed the woman repeatedly, Childers wrote.

During a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent found that Jordan is mentally incompetent. She ordered him to be sent to a federal facility to be rehabilitated until he is competent to stand trial.

Jordan’s public defender, Lisa Lorish, declined to comment on the finding.

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