Teenager accused in killing of Lucia Bremer to appear at court hearing

Posted at 12:22 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 12:22:01-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico County teenager who is accused of killing 13-year-old Lucia Bremer in 2021 appeared in court Tuesday morning. It was supposed to be the second day of his trial, but a new law that went into effect last July has pushed that back

Dylan Williams, 15, is being tried as an adult, and faces six charges including first-degree murder.

Bremer was walking with a friend near Godwin High School in March 2021 when police said Williams approached them and fatally shot Bremer.

CBS 6 does not normally publish the name of juveniles charged with crimes, but made the decision to publicize Williams's name after his case was moved from juvenile to circuit court.

Monday was supposed to be the start of a three-day jury trial, but that was postponed after a June hearing.

In court Tuesday morning, CBS 6 learned Williams will undergo a neuropsychological evaluation that same day. That evaluation will assess trauma Williams may have endured as a child, and determine how that could have impacted his mental condition at the time of Bremer’s death.

"They are rather lengthy," explained criminal defense attorney Ed Riley, who is not associated with the case. "I mean, it's not unusual for them to be four or five hours long, and it can be even longer in the sense of the actual time the evaluator spends directly with the individual."

Both prosecution and defense attorneys agreed to delay the trial last month to allow doctors to conduct this evaluation.

Riley said this evaluation was made available by a law that went into effect in 2021 and added it is a new tool for handling cases that potentially involve mental health.

Following the June hearing, one of Williams's attorneys, Kevin Purnell, told CBS 6 that while his client was found competent to stand trial (after initially being found incompetent), he may have suffered head trauma as a child and the evaluation could provide insight on to what, if any, impact that may have on his mental condition.

Purnell said if the doctor found Williams processed things differently than others, it could provide new avenues of defense.

His defense attorneys previously told CBS 6 their client may have experienced head trauma as a child.

Riley said while in the past, defendants were deemed either sane or not, there could be "diminished capacity issues".

"If you have a mental illness that could have affected you at the time, although you may not be insane, that may have affected the decision-making process that allowed you to commit that offense," explained Riley.

Riley added it could be used to argue that a defendant — especially a younger one whose brain is still developing — does not meet the standards of a certain charge. For example, a judge or jury could deem a defendant does not meet the standard of a more serious charge, like first-degree murder, but does meet the standard for a lesser one, like manslaughter.

The new section of this law states:

"In any criminal case, evidence offered by the defendant concerning the defendant's mental condition at the time of the alleged offense, including expert testimony, is relevant, is not evidence concerning an ultimate issue of fact, and shall be admitted if such evidence (i) tends to show the defendant did not have the mental state required for the offense charged and (ii) is otherwise admissible pursuant to the general rules of evidence. For purposes of this section, to establish the underlying mental condition the defendant must show that his condition existed at the time of the offense and that the condition satisfies the diagnostic criteria for (a) a mental illness as defined in § 37.2-100, (b) a developmental disability or intellectual disability as defined in § 37.2-100, or (c) autism spectrum disorder as defined in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association."

"It's still a little bit of a gray area and how exactly it's going to be utilized," Riley said. "But it should not lead to a 'not guilty' in and of itself. It's still something that the jury would consider. And then they would determine whether there's guilt or innocence."

A new status hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 24 at 8:45 a.m.