The Macon Telegraph, July 15, 2003
By Rob Peecher, Telegraph Staff Writer
A judge issued an order Monday requiring confessed child molester Malachi York to undergo a psychological evaluation at a federal facility, U.S. Attorney Max Wood confirmed.
The evaluation likely will delay the start of York’s trial, tentatively set for early next month, said Wood.
“I can’t imagine us being ready for trial – getting (the psychological examination) completed by Aug. 4,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson’s order had not been filed Monday in the U.S. District Courthouse in Macon. Wood said he was aware of the order but had not seen it.
York’s attorney, Manny Arora, also had not seen the order late Monday afternoon. He said the defense had asked for an evaluation to determine York’s competency to understand the process of his federal criminal case.
“This is not an insanity issue – this is simply to make sure he understands the proceedings,” Arora said. “The trial cannot go forward until he is deemed to be competent.”
York pleaded guilty in January to 77 state counts dealing almost entirely with child sex abuse charges and two federal counts involving taking children across state lines for the purpose of having sex with them and avoiding federal financial reporting requirements.
York has not withdrawn his guilty pleas in either the state or federal charges, but Lawson rejected the 15-year prison sentence agreed to during plea negotiations between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and York’s lawyers.
Lawson said if York follows through with the guilty plea, he likely will be sentenced to serve 20 years in prison, rather than 15.
Lawson also told both sides to be ready for trial Aug. 4 in the event that York withdraws his plea.
York’s attorneys have reported to the judge that he has been uncooperative with them, and during a hearing in June, York told the judge he was a sovereign American Indians, not subject to the federal laws. York demanded that he be turned over to his “tribe” for trial.
“I think he’s hanging his hat on something that, unfortunately – as the judge asked us – doesn’t have any legal basis,” Arora said.
Arora noted that federal law does provide special considerations for American Indians in some civil law, but American Indians are still subject to criminal law. Also, York appears to be relying on a forged document purporting to be signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue as proof that he is an American Indian.
Arora said York was initially uncooperative when a court-appointed psychologist attempted to interview him July 4, but did cooperate during a second interview July 7. He said he has not received the results of that interview.
Wood declined to comment on York’s competency.
York, the leader of the cult-like group, the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, moved from New York to a 476-acre farm in Putnam County in 1993. Just prior to that move, York and his followers were living on a camp in the Catskill Mountains where they had erected at least one tepee and were claiming American Indian heritage.
York, at the time, referred to himself as Chief Black Eagle, and followers still loyal to him recently have reverted back to that name. During two recent hearings in Macon, Nuwaubians have attended wearing American Indian-style clothing and beaded headdresses with feathers.
Since coming to Putnam County, though, the group has claimed ancestry from ancient Egyptians. The group also has claimed to be Muslim, Jewish and Christian. York claimed to be from another planet and has told his followers he is an angel. The group also has claimed to be affiliated with Freemasons.
In 1998, Putnam County and the Nuwaubians began a public court battle, mostly over zoning violations, that lasted until just before York’s arrest by federal and local authorities in May 2002.
Late Monday, York was still being held in the Jones County Jail. It was unclear what federal facility he will be sent to. Arora guessed the evaluation will last 30 to 45 days.