Forensic psychologist on retainer for man in I-95 chase

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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Arraignment for a South Carolina man charged federally in a September chase and shooting spree that ended in Virginia has been reset for March 16 in Wilmington.

Franklin Joseph Dangerfield, who reportedly led law enforcement on a chase that started in South Carolina and ended in Emporia, was indicted in the Eastern District Court of North Carolina on September 23 for possession of a sawed-off-short-barrel shotgun; transporting a prohibited weapon without a license; and transport of an unregistered firearm.

The latest change in the arraignment comes as counsel for Dangerfield requested an ex-parte for the authorization of funds to employ a forensic psychologist to evaluate the man and aid in his defense as the case goes through the federal court system, according to a copy of the motion.

The arraignment had been scheduled for next month.

The Criminal Justice Act, the motion said, requires the court to authorize such services for defense counsel when a reasonably competent attorney would engage such services for a client having independent financial means to pay for them. “ … Counsel has been informed by (the) defendant and family members that (the) defendant suffers from a traumatic brain injury.

“Based on the information counsel has received concerning (the) defendant’s brain injury and counsel’s communication with (the) defendant during in-person meetings … counsel believes (the) defendant’s mental health condition may be relevant to his defense and respectfully requests this court to authorize additional funds for defense counsel to employ a forensic psychologist to evaluate (the) defendant.”

Counsel for Dangerfield contacted Maryanne Etheridge, a licensed psychologist with over 20 years of experience in clinical and forensic psychology. Etheridge confirmed she is available to assist counsel.

Dangerfield’s counsel requested $3,250 to retain Etheridge based on her hourly rate of $250 and estimated the evaluation of Dangerfield will require 13 hours. Those 13 hours, according to the motion, which was approved by the court, consist of interviews and psychological testing, reviewing records, scoring and interpreting test results and drafting a report. “If (the) defendant could afford a private forensic psychologist, undersigned counsel would advise hiring one.”

Dangerfield was charged by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for possession of the sawed-off shotgun.

According to the ATF complaint, deputies with the Nash County Sheriff’s Office responded after receiving calls of a male shooting at vehicles along I-95 from a black pickup.

Deputies located the truck traveling at high speeds north on I-95, and pursued the driver through four counties, before crossing the North Carolina-Virginia state line.

Deputies with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office and the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the pursuit.

The driver of the pickup truck exceeded speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour before crashing at mile marker 11 in Emporia.

Virginia State Police observed Dangerfield, the sole occupant of the vehicle, in the driver’s seat and a loaded Savage Arms Springfield 67H 12-gauge shotgun in plain view on the front passenger seat.

The shotgun had a sawed-off barrel and was not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, in violation of federal law. Officers also recovered shotgun shells and a hacksaw from the truck.

The injuries in Nash County along I-95 included one person shot in the shoulder and another punctured in the face by shattered glass.

A Nash County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s marked vehicle sustained damage in the chase and the deputy received treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

A South Carolina TV station reported at the time Dangerfield set his house in Ladson, South Carolina on fire before leading authorities on the high-speed chase.

The Charleston Post & Courier reported in May of 2017 Dangerfield faced numerous counts after he attempted to carjack three vehicles and then tried to kidnap two teens.

At the time he was charged with grand larceny, first-degree burglary and two counts each of kidnapping and carjacking.

(Lance Martin is the Editor and Publisher of Permission was received to print this article.)