Amtrak Stabbing Suspect Faces 8 New Charges

A Michigan man who has been charged with stabbing four people aboard an Amtrak train last December was arraigned on Wednesday on eight new charges.

Michael Darnell Williams, 44, of Saginaw, now faces four charges of assault with intent to murder, as well as one additional charge of assault with intent to murder, five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of carrying a concealed weapon (knife) and one count of resisting and obstructing police.

The incident happened last Dec. 5 aboard the eastbound Blue Water as it neared a scheduled stop in Niles, Michigan. The train was en route from Chicago to Port Huron, Michigan.

Williams faces a preliminary hearing next Tuesday on the new charges, as well as the four initial charges against him.

No determination has been made as to whether he can be found criminally responsible for the acts.

At the time of the attack, Williams told police he acted after someone he had been talking to “turned into a demon.”

Niles police met the train at the station and arrested Williams, who police said was armed with a knife.

Amtrak conductor Dontrel Bankhead, 40, was stabbed two times in the head, two times in the neck and several other times in the body; passenger Bonnie Cleasby, 59, was stabbed in the abdomen; passenger Dan Stewart, 56, was stabbed once in the check; and passenger Gail Vanhorst, 47, was stabbed in the chest.

The latest charge of assault with intent to murder charge stems from an alleged assault on a Nile police officer

Williams underwent a forensic examination after his arrest and was found to suffer from visual hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and schizophrenia.

He subsequently received treatment and last week was found to be competent to stand trial in a court hearing before Berrien County Trial Judge Dennis Wiley.

Defense attorney Shannon Sible asked to delay the hearing until the court receives a report on whether Williams can be held criminally responsible for his actions.

“He shouldn’t have to make a decision on how to proceed until we get the report on criminal responsibility,” Sible said.

Assistant Prosecutor Amy Byrd said that being held criminally responsible differs from competency to stand trial .

If Williams is found to be not criminally responsible, his attorney could use that as a defense.

Sible said that Williams is frustrated with the time that has elapsed since his arraignment in December.

 

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