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Jonathan James Wilson
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Seattle suspect has long history with police, state mental health

Jonathan James Wilson. (KIRO 7)

While he may have been arrested for assaulting strangers in Seattle three times over the past six months — before he attempted to throw a woman off of an I-5 overpass this month — Jonathan James Wilson has a much longer history with mental health officials, police, and the state’s prison system.

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Wilson, 34, has been charged with attempted assault after allegedly trying to throw a woman he did not know over the Madison Street overpass in Seattle shortly before 9 a.m. on March 11. The woman clung to the railing with morning I-5 rush hour traffic 40 feet below. A passerby pulled Wilson off of the woman. He then walked away before police arrested him.

KIRO 7 reports that Wilson has been arrested three other times since September, also for assaulting people he did not know in Seattle — including punching a woman in the face and pepper spraying another. He was found with a box cutter during one arrest. All of those cases were handled by Seattle Municipal Court and were “dismissed without prejudice, dismissed by reason of incompetency” after Wilson received a mental health competency evaluation. Wilson is reportedly homeless, but is now in King County Jail on $400,000 bail and is awaiting to be arraigned on March 27.

The Seattle Municipal Court released this statement on why Wilson’s cases were dropped after his three previous arrests:

An individual cannot legally be prosecuted in the criminal justice system if they are not competent because they will not be able to assist in their own defense. When a Mental Health Evaluation determines that an individual is not competent, prosecutors may move for competency restoration. In the three Seattle Municipal Court cases involving Mr. Wilson, the prosecutor did not request competency restoration.

In all three cases, the judge ordered the defendant to be evaluated by a Designated Crisis Responder to assess his need for civil commitment under RCW 71.05. Once this referral is made, the defendant can continue to be held in jail for a maximum of 72 hours awaiting an evaluation. The court and the prosecutor do not have the power to influence the decision of the Designated Crisis Responder.

A statement from the King County Prosecutor’s office explains why he has been currently charged with attempted assault instead of murder:

The filed charge is Attempted Assault in the First Degree. That crime requires proof of intent to inflict great bodily harm. Attempted Murder in the Second Degree would require proof of intent to actually cause death. Because these are “attempted” crimes, the critical difference between them is the defendant’s actual intent. We are aware from indications in prior case dockets that the defendant has a history of mental health issues. Given that history, the fact that we are early in the investigation, and that the victim thankfully suffered only minor injuries, we chose to file the case conservatively. We can always consider adding Attempted Murder as the case proceeds towards trial.

But this incident, nor the three previous arrests in 2018, are Wilson’s first run-ins with the law and Washington’s mental health care systems. A December 2018 forensic mental health evaluation of Wilson concluded that he may understand the nature of court proceedings, but lacks the capacity to assist his counsel in his own defense.

The record of that mental health evaluation notes that Wilson has a history of mental illness dating back to 1998, and has served a three-year prison sentence after he set his case manager’s car on fire.

In prison, he became highly agitated at times and fought with others. He expressed paranoid delusions, claiming others were trying to harm him. During his sentence, he was sent to another facility for his mental health treatment. There, he claimed he was the son of Lucifer, and that he is the Devil. He said he was going to kill people, that he would get guns, among other threats. After a few weeks, his behavior calmed and he was returned to prison.

It was also documented that Wilson had previously reported hearing voices, which he suspected was a side effect of using meth, and was often suicidal.

Other history included in the evaluation state that Wilson received outpatient services from human services agencies in Snohomish County, Walla Walla, and through the Spokane jail. It was also noted that Wilson has an admitted history of drug use, such as meth, cocaine, ecstasy, and MDMA. During his most recent evaluation in December, he would not discuss when he most recently used drugs.

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