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Eliason undergoes psychiatric evaluation

Published 11:03pm Thursday, July 22, 2010

By JESSICA SIEFF

Niles Daily Star

Dakotah Eliason underwent yet another psychiatric evaluation as prosecutor Art Cotter and defense attorney Lanny Fisher await trial proceedings scheduled to start in August.

Dr. Philip Berent, a psychiatrist with Madison Center in South Bend, met with Eliason at the Berrien County Juvenile Detention Center Thursday morning.

“He’s a psychiatrist with an extensive background in forensic examinations.” Fisher said. Those two elements combined with Berent’s experience working with juveniles were the three primary attributes Fisher said he was looking for in a psychiatric expert.

The case against Eliason, 14, who is charged with the murder of his grandfather, Jesse Miles, in March, met the deadline July 2 for any possible plea agreements; there were none.

At that time, Fisher made a motion regarding his evaluation of his client for the defense, requesting the county cover the costs of the chosen expert.

Eliason had until Thursday, and had only been evaluated on behalf of the prosecution.

Judge Scott Schofield ruled July 8 the county would cover the costs for Eliason to be evaluated again.

Fisher said it would be up to Berent how many times he felt it necessary to meet with Eliason.

Though he said he’s not trying to “find” anything in regard to his client’s evaluation, Fisher said, “I want the doctor to just find what’s there — if there’s anything there.”

“With a case like this, when there’s a lot of questions,” Fisher said, he’s hoping Berent’s expertise will help lead to insight.

The defense attorney has said previously such evaluations are “very important” to the case on both sides.

The trial has been set for Aug. 17-19.

Fisher said he’s been in regular contact with Eliason’s father Steven. His client has shown no real change in behavior, he said.

“He’s just been pretty steady,” he said.

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