The trial of a queer East Bay man accused of stalking and threatening to kill a former mentor is on hold as doctors examine whether he’s mentally competent.
Demarus Allen-Batieste, 30, of Hercules, California, was “a gifted student” who in 2013 got a scholarship to study at the Zurich Symphony, where the female victim worked, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a summary.
The woman, whose name wasn’t released, mentored Allen-Batieste and other students, but after he developed a “serious mental illness,” he was expelled from the symphony and returned to the United States, Wagstaffe said.
Allen-Batieste then “started stalking” the woman “and threatened her with multiple vile emails,” according to the DA. “The emails included threats to kill the victim and numerous delusional threats” to her.
The case had been scheduled for jury trial Tuesday, December 27, but Mark Camperi, Allen-Batieste’s attorney, expressed doubt about his client’s competency to stand trial and filed a motion for his mental state to be examined.
Two doctors had already concluded in 2015 that Allen-Batieste was competent, Wagstaffe said, but Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum “reluctantly granted the renewed competency motion and suspended criminal proceedings.”
Forcum appointed Doctors Jeffrey Gould and George Wilkinson to examine Allen-Batieste, and the trial date was vacated. The next court date is February 7, 2017 for receipt of the doctors’ report and to schedule future competency proceedings.
Allen-Batieste, who’s been charged with making criminal threats, stalking, and being in contempt of court., is out of custody on $150,000 bail.
In response to emailed questions, Allen-Batieste said, “I haven’t done anything illegal that is resultant in a violation of the law,” and “I have never committed a violent physical or mental attack aimed at another person with intent to harm.”
He said that he’s “absolutely” competent to stand trial.
“With the help of great clinicians I am able to maintain my illness without medication,” he said.
In August 2015, Allen-Batieste entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in the case. He rejected an unspecified offer from prosecutors in November 2016, Wagstaffe said.
He had attended Northwestern University on a music scholarship he got with help from the nonprofit Students Rising Above before he went to Zurich, according to Wagstaffe.
Deputy District Attorney Alpana D. Samant is prosecuting the case.
The Bay Area Reporter also spoke with Allen-Batieste recently about claims he filed in October against staff at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, his former employer. His allegations include “emotional distress, racial discrimination, failure to act to prevent sexual harassment,” and “wrongful termination.”
SFAF staff have declined to comment on the claims, which are pending in San Francisco Superior Court.