Case dismissed against woman accused of paint vandalism at Washington National Cathedral

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FILE - In this July 26, 2013 file photo, green paint splattered on the base of the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. A woman accused of splattering green paint at the Washington National Cathedral and suspected of committing similar vandalism at sites including the Lincoln Memorial in 2013 will not be prosecuted. Online court records show that a judge on Tuesday dismissed the case against Jiamei Tian, 60, who was arrested in July 2013 after being caught in the National Cathedral holding what appeared to be a soda can containing green paint. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)


WASHINGTON — A woman accused of splattering green paint at the Washington National Cathedral and suspected of vandalizing other historic sites including the Lincoln Memorial in 2013 will not be prosecuted.

Online court records show that a judge on Tuesday dismissed the case against Jiamei Tian, 60, who was arrested in July 2013 after being caught in the National Cathedral holding what appeared to be a soda can containing green paint.

Tian was also suspected of vandalizing the Lincoln Memorial, where several days earlier green paint was found on the statue, the pedestal and the floor. It took officials several cleanings to remove the paint. Two other District of Columbia statues were defaced with paint around the same time, including one of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian, and a statue of the theologian Martin Luther.

D.C. Superior Court Judge John McCabe issued an order late last year finding that Tian, who had been receiving mental health treatment at a city facility, was not mentally competent to stand trial and that it was not likely that she would regain competence. That meant prosecutors could not move forward with their case.

McCabe ordered Tuesday's court hearing to determine whether city officials would ask that Tian be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. A spokeswoman for the city's Department of Behavioral Health, Phyllis Jones, said the department did not ask that she be civilly committed because psychiatrists determined she was not a danger to herself or others, and was willing to continue treatment in an outpatient setting. Online records show McCabe on Tuesday ordered Tian released from a city mental health hospital.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, William Miller, said prosecutors disagreed with the decision not to seek a civil commitment.

A spokeswoman for the city's Public Defender Service, which represented Tian, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. At the time Tian was arrested, authorities said she held a Chinese passport but was traveling on an expired visa.


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