Man Accused in AT Hiker’s Death Found Competent to Stand Trial

The man accused of killing Appalachian Trail hiker Ronald Sanchez Jr. and severely injuring a female hiker in May 2019 has been declared competent to stand trial for murder, according to news reports.

James L. Jordan, 31, appeared June 11 in US District Court in Abingdon, Virginia, where Magistrate Judge Pamela Sargent found that based on the findings of a mental health evaluation, Jordan is now competent to take part in court proceedings after treatment at a federal facility, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.

Jordan, whose last known address was in Massachusetts, was charged with murder and assault after the two hikers were attacked in southwestern Virginia. Sanchez was an Army veteran from Oklahoma who was thru-hiking to deal with PTSD; the woman was a thru-hiker from Canada.

Sargent declared in July 2019 that Jordan was not competent to stand trial, and ordered him to receive mental health treatment.

He has been treated at the federal Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, since then.

Jordan was advised of the charges against him, and Sargent asked him if he understood them, the Herald reported.

“I understand the charges, your honor,” said Jordan, who wore a red jail jumpsuit and spoke through a green face covering, according to the Herald.

Another court hearing was scheduled for June 25.

Featured photo courtesy of Josh Johnson

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