Suicide Watch - 7/17/02
A sentencing hearing for Ol' Dirty Bastard was postponed yet again Tuesday (July 17), this time because of a report that the rapper may have tried to hurt himself hours earlier at the psychiatric ward where he is being held.
Before the start of the hearing, in which the Wu-Tang Clan rapper faces two to four years in state prison for possession of 20 vials of crack cocaine, Kings County Hospital sent a report to the court about the Tuesday morning incident. Judge Joseph A. Grosso granted defense lawyer Peter Frankel's motion to adjourn the hearing for 24 hours so the incident could be investigated further, over objections by prosecutor Kenneth Holder, who accused ODB (born Russell Jones) of stalling.
ODB wore a bandage on his wrist in court. He will be placed in protective custody and kept on suicide watch until his new sentencing hearing on Wednesday (July 18).
"This period was really, more than anything else, to give me an opportunity to speak with the staff at Kings County Hospital and try to ascertain exactly what it was that took place, how it happened and what, if any, effect it will have in court tomorrow," Frankel said. "After he's sentenced, the state will do a physical and mental exam, and they'll determine if he needs [special treatment] while he's institutionalized and they'll make the proper recommendation," Assistant District Attorney Holder said. "All we're trying to do is get him into the state system, and that's what [Frankel] is trying not to do. This case has been going on and on for a while. Enough already. Let's just move on with it." ODB was moved to the psychiatric ward of Kings County Hospital after staff at the Queens County House of Detention, where he was held since pleading guilty in April to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree (see "ODB Pleads Guilty On Drug Charges"), recommended he be transferred in order to investigate issues relating to his state of mind, according to Frankel.
The rapper is facing the prison time from a 1999 incident when police stopped his car and found the drugs (see "ODB Arrested In NYC On Drug, Driving Charges").
Tuesday was the second time sentencing was adjourned since the rapper pleaded guilty. Nearly a dozen postponements have occurred since his arrest. ODB was originally scheduled for sentencing June 13, but Frankel bumped the date pending a more complete pre-sentence report, a comprehensive evaluation of the defendant's criminal, social, physical and mental history (see "ODB Sentencing Postponed Until July"). Frankel said that the revised report claimed that "there exists legitimate psychiatric issues that should be addressed from a legal standpoint." "The report stated that he was fit to proceed to sentencing, which really only means that he's able to understand the charges against him and is able to assist in his defense," Frankel said. "However, the law recognizes that you can be fit to proceed, but still have a psychiatric disorder." While the lawyers met at Judge Grosso's bench to discuss the morning's findings, ODB stood cuffed before the bench, occasionally offering long-faced glances over his shoulder at his wife, Icelene Jones, 32, who sat in attendance. "His mentality is totally different, he's not himself anymore," she said of her husband's condition. The couple has been married 16 years and have three children together, aged 13, 12 and 10. When last she saw him a few weeks ago, he looked troubled but didn't seem suicidal.
"He's scared to go back to jail because people are threatening to kill him there," she continued. "Me and the children know that he's not doing so well."
Copyright 2002, The Original Free ODB Coalition