On Wednesday, a judge ordered a mental evaluation for a Colorado man who was accused of inserting a thumb drive in a voting machine during June’s primary election.
Jonah Wexler (public defender for Richard Patton) requested an evaluation to determine if Patton is mentally competent to continue legal proceedings. Wexler didn’t reveal the reason behind the request at a Pueblo court hearing.
Judge William Alexander stated that he didn’t have sufficient information to determine whether Patton was competent. He ordered state experts evaluate Patton and explained that an arrest warrant would issue for him if Patton did not appear for the appointment.
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For someone to be legally competent to proceed with a case, they must be able to comprehend the proceedings and communicate with their lawyers.
Patton was arrested Nov. 3 by members of the Pueblo Police Department High-Tech Crime Unit for investigation of tampering with voting equipment, a felony, and cybercrime-unauthorized access, a misdemeanor, the department said in a statement.
According to Jena Griswold, poll workers heard sounds coming from the voting booth during the final day of primary voting. A poll worker noticed an error message on the machine and called a supervisor. It stated that the machine’s Tamper-Evident Seals appeared to have been damaged.
In an interview on Monday with The Pueblo Chieftain, Patton, a registered Democrat denied any wrongdoing. He claimed that he asked for help from an election worker when he was voting in June. He claimed he didn’t know there was a problem until SWAT officers entered his home and accused him of being a “computer hacker”.
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“This is demonstrably false, because I’m a jock. I’m basic. I love to weightlift. He said that he doesn’t know much about programming and didn’t plan to learn because it was boring.
According to the secretary-of-state’s office, Patton was the first to be arrested under a new law that broadens the definition of “tampering” with election equipment. It is now a felony punishable up to three years imprisonment.