Man charged in Ashanti Billie’s murder to undergo mental evaluation

Eric Brown (Photo courtesy: Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Eric Brian Brown, the 45-year-old retired Navy veteran accused of a kidnapping and killing 19-year-old Ashanti Billie, will undergo mental health evaluations to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial.

Federal prosecutors had filed a motion for Brown to receive the tests back on Dec. 1, arguing that multiple interactions Brown had with agents and others before his arrest indicated “deeply troubling statements and bizarre conduct.” Documents show prison staff have noted “unusual actions” from Brown since he was incarcerated.

He was taken into custody back in November and charged with Billie’s kidnapping and murder. Weeks later at a preliminary hearing, FBI officials said they received new DNA evidence that makes the case against Brown even stronger. They say Brown’s DNA matches samples were taken from the steering wheel, gear shift, headlight switch, and turn signal of Billie’s Mini Cooper

On Friday, a federal judge ordered Brown to be tested at Federal Medical Center Butner in North Carolina, or any suitable federal facility, to see if he’s “suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent…to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.”

The judge also ordered both the prosecution and defense to provide all information regarding Brown, except attorney-client privilege material, to help with the evaluation.

At least one qualified psychiatrist or licensed clinical psychologist will conduct the tests, which were ordered to not to exceed 30 days.

Brown was being held behind bars at Western Tidewater Regional Jail. He’ll be escorted to the psychiatric facility by U.S. Marshals “as soon as practicable.”

Court proceedings will then resume after the evaluation.