Man’s mental condition delays murder trial

CHESTERFIELD – The trial for a man accused of killing two Chesterfield women and suspected of killing his father the same day in Dinwiddie County has once again been pushed back due to his mental condition.

Herbert Bland Jr., 23, was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial Wednesday in Chesterfield General District Court, where he faces two first-degree murder charges and two related firearm charges.

Bland’s court-appointed attorney, John Rockecharlie, said a judge continued the case for another 90 days while Central State Hospital employees attempt to restore Bland’s mental competency.

“The length of time he has spent at Central State Hospital is indicative of how sick he is,” Rockecharlie said.

Bland has been at Central State Hospital for about 90 days, according to Rockecharlie.

The mental competency assessment is based on whether Bland is able to understand the seriousness of the charges against him, understand the legal process and adequately assist his attorney.

A judge first deemed Bland unfit to stand trial on March 30 after a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation concluded that he was not mentally competent to stand trial.

The March 30 court appearance was almost four months after police believe the 23-year-old shot his ex-girlfriend and her mother in the head before making the 20-minute drive back to his home in Dinwiddie.

There, authorities believe that Bland engaged in a gunfight with his father, which ended with a gunshot wound to Bland’s chest and his father, Herbert Bland Sr., dead.

The elder Bland alerted authorities to his house in the 2000 block of Harris Drive after he noticed his gun missing. He told deputies that he believed his son had taken his gun and used it in a shooting.

When deputies arrived at the Bland residence, they saw the younger Bland stumble outside of the house with two pistols in his hand.

He told authorities that his father had shot him and that he shot his father in the head, according to court records.

A UPS employee delivering a package to a home in the 5200 block of River Road in Chesterfield discovered the bodies of Elizabeth Fassett, 42, and Barbara Fassett, 65, later in the afternoon on Jan. 7.

The killings came four months after the younger Bland completed two years of court-order psychiatric treatment. That court order stemmed from an August 2010 incident in which the elder Bland shot his son in the leg in self-defense, court records show.

Throughout his psychiatric treatment, Bland Jr. was placed on a variety of medications that treat psychosis, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression.

Court records show that he attended all of the appointments and complied with the medications. He continued to live with his parents and was unemployed.

“He is doing a little better and does not feel paranoid … does still feel that people can control him,” Dr. Fawaz wrote in a progress report. “He has had no suicidal or homicidal ideas.”

The 2010 case was dismissed in September 2012, once Bland’s treatment was completed.

Bland will reappear in Chesterfield court on Oct. 9 where his mental state will be reassessed.

Charges against Bland in connection to the death of his father are still pending. Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Lisa Caruso has said that she is waiting as Bland progresses through the Chesterfield court system.

– Vanessa Remmers may be reached at 804-722-5155 or