Attorney: Man accused of killing beggar on MARTA train is mentally ill

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Attorney: Man accused of killing beggar on MARTA train is mentally ill

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JOSHUA SHARPE/JOSHUA.SHARPE@AJC.COM
Charles Richey, standing at right, leaves a 2017 court hearing after a detective laid out the case against Richey, who is accused of murder in the death of a MARTA panhandler on a train.

The attorney for Charles Richey, who is accused of killing a panhandler on a MARTA train, is asking for the suspect to be judged incompetent to stand trial.

Daryl Queen said Richey, a mechanic, has “moderate intellectual disability, unspecified bipolar with related disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder,” court records obtained this week show. 

“Therefore,” Queen wrote, “at the present time the defendant is incompetent to such an extent that he does not adequately comprehend his condition with regard to the proceedings and is incapable of adequately assisting his attorney in the defense of the charges against him.”

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott ordered an evaluation within 90 days of Nov. 30. No evaluation has yet been filed in court.

“Mr. Richey is currently being evaluated by the state regarding his competency,” Queen said in an email Thursday. “I expect those results within a month.”

Richey is accused of stabbing Damilola Azuana, 41, who was asking riders for money on a train near the Avondale station Jan. 24 around 8:15 p.m. 

When he asked Richey, Richey said he worked too hard to give away his money, that he only gave money to women, a detective testified in a previous hearing. He taunted Azuana lewdly, asking if, despite his appearance as a man, he had a vagina, the detective said.



Security video from the train, which hasn’t been released, reportedly shows Azuana raise his hands in resignation.

“Leave me alone,” the panhandler said, according to police. “Look, just leave me alone.”

He walked away.

Then Richey grabbed him and a fight ensued, the detective said. Azuana pinned Richey down and Richey pulled a knife and stabbed him, according to police.

Richey has been in jail without bond since his arrest shortly after the stabbing.

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