Judge orders further mental fitness evaluation for Mount Morris teen charged with attempted murder

Malachi M. Voight in February 2024

OREGON – A Mount Morris man will be sent to a mental health facility for further evaluation to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial for attempted murder.

Judge John “Ben” Roe ruled Friday that a preliminary mental health evaluation indicated there is “bona fide doubt” that Malachi M. Voight, 18, is able to assist with his own defense as his case proceeds through the court system.

Roe made his decision after Voight’s attorney, Brandon Gecan of Tess, Crull & Arnquist in Rochelle, presented the court with a mental health evaluation by Jayne Braden, a forensic and clinical psychologist in Sycamore.

Roe said he reviewed the confidential, psychological evaluation and Braden’s opinion of Voight’s mental status, which said he likely would be found “unfit” if evaluated further.

Braden has provided evaluations for many defendants in Ogle County and often is appointed by the court to perform such tasks.

Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Leisten said he also had received a copy of Braden’s report.

Voight will be taken from the Ogle County Correctional Center to a secure Department of Human Services facility for further evaluation.

He was arrested by Ogle County sheriff’s deputies in February, accused of hitting a 62-year-old man in the head with a dumbbell and then trying to strangle him. He also is accused of biting off a piece of a toe of a 60-year-old woman.

All the charges stem from a Feb. 14 domestic altercation at Mount Morris Estates, east of Mount Morris.

The man, woman and Voight all were treated at KSB Hospital in Dixon, deputies said. Voight was arrested upon his release from the hospital Feb. 27. He also is charged with two counts of aggravated battery of a person older than 60 and two counts of aggravated battery.

At a Feb. 29 detention hearing, prosecutors argued to keep Voight in custody in the Ogle County Correctional Center, noting that attempted murder is a detainable offense, there was a preponderance of evidence that he committed the offense, and that Voight posed a “real and present” threat to the victims and community if he were released.

Gecan argued that Voight should be released with a combination of conditions. Roe agreed and released Voight with the conditions that he stay at a home in Machesney Park when not in treatment, wear a GPS monitoring bracelet, attend school, check in daily with the Ogle County probation department and comply with any recommendations from its staff, and not break any laws or consume any alcohol or nonprescription drugs.

Gecan also requested the mental health evaluation by Braden and was granted a continuance for that report to be completed.

In a written motion to the court, Gecan said Voight “displayed signs that he is suffering from an ongoing psychological disorder(s),” which affects his ability to observe, recollect and relate occurrences.

“The defendant is unable to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him or to assist in his defense due to his medical condition(s),” Gecan wrote in the motion.

On March 18, Roe issued an order that Voight be taken back to the Ogle County Jail upon his discharge from Chicago Behavioral Health in Des Plaines.

On Friday, Voight appeared in court in handcuffs wearing an orange jumpsuit issued to inmates being held at the county jail. He sobbed frequently and looked to family members who were in attendance in the courtroom.

“I love you guys,” he said as he was being escorted out of the courtroom.

“We love you, too,” they said.

Roe set Voight’s next court appearance for 2 p.m. May 15.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.