The man accused of a series of hammer attacks who police shot in Midtown last week appeared in court for the first time yesterday, but not physically. David Baril is still hospitalized in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital Center, so court workers rigged up a video conference system for the proceedings.
The New York Times reports:
Judge Tamiko A. Amaker of Criminal Court in Manhattan ordered the man, David Baril, 30, to remain in state custody until his trial.
The police say Mr. Baril has schizophrenia, and his most recent address was a shelter for mentally ill people on West 113th Street. His social media accounts contained images of a hammer with blood dripping from it.
A public defender, Tara Collins, asked Judge Amaker to order a psychological examination of Mr. Baril to determine whether he was mentally fit to stand trial. The judge complied.
Baril is facing assault and weapons possession charges for four apparently random hammer attacks on May 11th, and for the May 13th attack on a police officer on 37th Street that prompted the cop's partner to shoot Baril.
It's unclear from reports whether Baril's lawyer was with him in the hospital or if she was in the courtroom. The arrangement is unusual, but not totally unheard of. A veteran defense attorney we spoke to who is not connected to Baril's case said she has had a judge come to a hospital to arraign a client of hers, but that hospital hearings aren't common simply because not that many defendants are hospitalized. In a development that would please the makers of the Futurama exhibit at the 1964 World's Fair, video conferencing is now a relatively common component of New York's criminal justice system. It is sometimes used for court appearances for inmates, and for communication between lawyers and their incarcerated clients, according to the attorney, Susan Tipograph.
Normally, defendants are supposed to be arraigned within 24 hours of being arrested—a guideline that has come about through persistent lawsuits by the Legal Aid Society, though it still isn't always followed—but Baril was in critical condition for a time and likely unable to participate in legal proceedings.