Niles Amtrak stabbing suspect faces 8 new charges

From The South Bend Tribune:

The Saginaw man who allegedly stabbed four people on an Amtrak train coming into Niles last December was arraigned Wednesday on eight new charges. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing next Tuesday on the new charges, as well as the four initial charges against him.

Michael Darnell Williams, 44, now faces four charges of assault with intent to murder, as well as one additional charge of assault with intent to murder, five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of carrying a concealed weapon (knife) and one count of resisting and obstructing police.

No determination, however, has been made yet on whether he can be found criminally responsible for the acts.

Williams was arrested after a Dec. 5 stabbing aboard an Amtrak train headed to Port Huron from Chicago. Williams told police he started attacking people after one person he had been talking to “turned into a demon.”

Amtrak personnel called Niles police. When they arrived at the Niles station, officers made their way aboard the train and confronted Williams, who they said was armed with a knife.

Niles police officer Shane Daniel subdued Williams with a Taser and arrested him.

The four initial charges stemmed from his alleged assaults on conductor Dontrel Bankhead, 40, who was stabbed two times in the head, two times in the neck and several other times in the body; passenger Bonnie Cleasby, 59, who was stabbed in the abdomen; passenger Dan Stewart, 56, who was stabbed once in the check; and passenger Gail Vanhorst, 47, who was stabbed in the chest.

The new assault with intent to murder charge is for his alleged assault on officer Daniel, while the five assault with a dangerous weapon are for his alleged assaults on the conductor, three passengers and Daniel. The resisting and obstructing police charge is for allegedly resisting Daniel.

Williams was sent for a forensic examination after his arrest and was found to suffer from visual hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and schizophrenia. He then received treatment and last week was found to be competent to stand trial in a court hearing before Berrien County Trial Judge Dennis Wiley.

Wednesday, Wiley said the preliminary hearing on all 12 charges will be held next Tuesday, despite a request from defense attorney Shannon Sible to delay the hearing until a report comes back on whether Williams can be held criminally responsible for his actions.

“He shouldn’t have to make a decision on how to proceed until we get the report on criminal responsibility,” Sible said.

Whether Williams can be held to be criminally responsible for his actions is different than the competency issue, Assistant Prosecutor Amy Byrd said. If Williams is found to be not criminally responsible, his attorney could use it as a defense.

While Sible asked that the preliminary hearing be delayed, at the same time, he noted that Williams is “quite frustrated” with the time that has elapsed since his arraignment last December.