Suspect in IED blast found competent to stand trial

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

Stephen Powers, the Gloucester man accused of planting a bomb in a parking lot outside a downtown Williamsburg restaurant, was found competent to stand trial Thursday.

Williamsburg-James City County General District Court Judge Colleen Killilea heard testimony from court-appointed psychologist Dr. Kevin McWilliams before asking McWilliams to evaluate Powers again to determine his sanity at the time of the incident.

Powers was arrested Oct. 24, a day after an improvised explosive device detonated in the parking lot behind Berret’s Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill, near Merchants Square. No one was injured in the blast.

Powers had worked in the maintenance department at Colonial Williamsburg for more than two years, according to documents filed in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court.

McWilliams, who evaluated Powers twice in November, and once more in December and January, said he observed significant “flat-out malingering” — or feigning of mental illness from Powers.

Powers, 30, could retrieve information and could recall other information, but not of the incident, McWilliams said in court.

During his evaluations, McWilliams said Powers told him demons were eating part of his memory. McWilliams said Powers was “choosing not to” remember the incident.

The psychologist said Powers exhibited some signs of psychosis and schizophrenia but noted that “schizophrenia doesn’t just happen at age 30.”

John Konstantinou, Powers’ attorney, asked that his client be hospitalized.

“I think the safe thing to do is send him to the hospital,” Konstantinou said.

Konstantinou asked McWilliams if Powers would be able to fake mental illness 24 hours a day.

“I think it’d be difficult for him to keep that up for 24 hours a day,” McWilliams said.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kathy Black said the commonwealth’s attorney’s office obtained written documents from Powers that detailed the bomb scene and the location of the bomb-making materials at his home in Gloucester, and described a possible “hit” on his wife, Tiffany Lynn Powers since he was sent to Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.

Black said the information in the documents stands in contrast to Stephen Powers’ assertion to McWilliams that he can’t remember anything about the incident.

A status hearing for Powers is scheduled for 8 a.m. March 8 in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette
81°