Man jailed in machete attack planning to use insanity defense at upcoming trial

Posted 5/3/21

The man accused of attempted murder in a brutal machete attack on a Brinnon woman will be pursuing a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity, according to court documents filed recently in …

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Man jailed in machete attack planning to use insanity defense at upcoming trial

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The man accused of attempted murder in a brutal machete attack on a Brinnon woman will be pursuing a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity, according to court documents filed recently in Jefferson County Superior Court.

James Nathaniel Parker, 38, was arrested after he allegedly tried to kill his former girlfriend at her south county home in mid-January. The woman, 28, told police she had just gotten home and opened the door when Parker came at her with a machete. 

Parker has been in Jefferson County Jail since his arrest Jan. 18.

Samuel Feinson, Parker’s court-appointed attorney, notified the court in late March that Parker would be using an insanity defense and asked Superior Court Judge Keith Harper for permission to hire Dr. Kenneth Muscatel to evaluate and report on Parker’s mental condition before his upcoming trial.

Parker has been charged with first-degree attempted murder (domestic violence with a deadly weapon), and first-degree assault (domestic violence, great bodily harm, deadly weapon). He was later charged with custodial assault after he allegedly tried to attack a corrections officer at the Jefferson County Jail following his arrest.

He has entered pleadings of not guilty to all of the charges.

Feinson, in a March 22 motion, asked the court to allow Muscatel to conduct a psychiatric examination of Parker before his trial.

The exam, which would be paid for by the state, will include a diagnosis of Parker’s mental condition as well as an opinion by Muscatel if Parker suffers from a mental disease or defect, and if he was insane at the time of the attack.

The report will also include an opinion if Parker has the capacity to understand the upcoming court proceedings and help assist in his own defense, as well as an opinion if Parker presents a substantial danger to other people or if he is likely to commit other felonies that jeopardize public safety.

Muscatel is a forensic neuropsychologist who received a doctorate’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Washington in 1979. He has been a staff psychologist at Valley General Hospital in Kent, and has also served on the staff at Providence Hospital in Seattle and Steven’s Memorial Hospital in Edmonds. He was previously the director of the Anger Management Treatment Program at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Judge Harper approved the motion for Muscatel to be hired for the evaluation, which will take place at the Jefferson County Jail.

The cost of the evaluation, which includes an interview, review of medical records, and preparation of a report, is expected to cost $5,000.

While defendants usually face a statutory 10-day deadline to raise a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity, Feinson noted in court documents that Parker could not initially give notice in time of his desire to use that defense after his arrest because he asked for a new attorney.

Parker asked for a new lawyer in February. He remains in jail on $535,000 bond, and his trial has been set for May 24.

The first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault charges stem from Parker’s alleged assault on his former partner at her Brinnon home earlier this year.  

911 dispatchers were called just before 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17 by a man who said his neighbor had been attacked by “her ex” and was bleeding “rather badly.” 

A deputy responding to the 911 call found the woman sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle with significant cutting injuries to both arms as well as her upper back, head, neck and shoulders.

Parker fled the scene of the attack in a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, which was spotted after it broke down on U.S. Highway 101 near Hama Hama. Parker then tried to carjack another vehicle, according to police, before fleeing on foot.

A K-9 unit brought in by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office found Parker hiding in the woods nearby.

The charge of custodial assault was filed by prosecutors after Parker allegedly assaulted a corrections officer at the Jefferson County Jail in Port Hadlock the day after his arrest.

A review of the surveillance video from the holding cell showed Parker “very clearly” trying to punch the sergeant with his right fist after he charged an officer who wanted to get Parker to put on a suicide-prevention smock.

Officials said Parker decided to cooperate with officers at the jail after a corrections officer pointed a Taser at him.

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