Arraignment delayed while defendant ponders pleading

PORT ANGELES — The arraignment of a Port Angeles man has been delayed while his lawyer seeks another psychological evaluation in preparation for a possible mental health defense against the allegations.

Derek Dwayne Darling, 41, is charged with first-degree assault with a firearm and second-degree assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a mid-day July 24 incident at his Mountain Home Road home south of Port Angeles.

Darling shot at his neighbor from 300 feet away and threatened a Clallam County Sheriff’s Office deputy, law enforcement authorities said.

Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson on April 12 ruled Darling is competent to stand trial.

Darling, under a court-ordered psychotic-medication regimen, remained Saturday in the Clallam County jail on $250,000 bail.

On Friday, Erickson granted a motion by Clallam Public Defender lawyer John Hayden of Port Angeles, representing Darling, to reset entry of a plea to the two charges.

“We intend to have Mr. Darling evaluated to explore some mental health defenses,” Hayden told Erickson.

“I am in the process of trying to arrange that.

“At this point, we waive speedy arraignment to get that process started.”

Mental health defenses include pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Erickson reset the arraignment to 9 a.m. May 10.

Darling was apprehended about noon July 24 after allegedly causing what law enforcement authorities said was an active-shooter situation

They said he fired at least eight rifle shots at his neighbor and his neighbor’s house.

The man’s face was bloodied by shattered glass.

At least one bullet fired by Darling glanced off the man’s propane tank, authorities said.

A state psychologist said in an Aug. 17 mental evaluation report that Darling met the diagnosis criteria for schizophrenia.

Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour on Jan. 28 authorized involuntary medication for Darling, who had refused to take prescribed anti-psychotic drugs.

According to a mental health evaluation described in a March 26 report, “Symptoms associated with [Darling’s] mental illness decreased in intensity, and he was able to talk realistically about his family relationships and the circumstances of the case.”

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].