Mental evaluation Judge orders exam for Santiago, accused of slaying brother

Thursday, August 17, 2017

An 18-year-old Carroll County man accused of killing his autistic older brother with a baseball bat and sword will undergo a court-ordered mental evaluation.

Carroll County Circuit Judge Scott Jackson ordered the mental evaluation for Joseph Ian Santiago at the request of Santiago’s attorney, public defender Robert “Beau” Allen, during a brief hearing Monday at the Carroll County Western District Courthouse in Eureka Springs.

Santiago has pleaded not guilty to charges of capital murder, attempted capital murder and arson. He is accused of beating and stabbing Alex Santiago, 21, to death inside a mobile home in the Grandview area northwest of Berryville on Jan. 17. Joseph Santiago was 17 at the time of the incident and originally was held in a juvenile facility. However, he was transferred to the Carroll County Detention Center on Feb. 9, the day of his 18th birthday.

According to an affidavit from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Joseph Santiago admitted to investigators that he killed his brother with a baseball bat and sword. The affidavit says Joseph Santiago also admitted to being responsible for a fire at the family’s home in April 2016. The affidavit says Joseph Santiago told investigators that he locked his brother in his room and poured gasoline on the floor before setting the home on fire.

The attempted capital murder and arson charges apparently stem from that incident.

The affidavit says that during his initial call to the sheriff’s office on Jan. 17, the brothers’ father indicated that Alex Santiago was autistic.

Unlike previous court appearances where Joseph Santiago was escorted into court separately from other defendants, he was brought into the courtroom Monday along with several other inmates from the Carroll County jail. Dressed in a gray striped jail jumpsuit, he sat quietly during the court proceedings.

When his name was called, Santiago stood next to Allen. Jackson greeted Santiago, and he responded “Good afternoon, your honor.”

In granting Allen’s request for a mental evaluation, Jackson also suspended the court case pending the results of the evaluation.

Santiago is charged as an adult. A capital murder conviction carries a possible death penalty in Arkansas but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to issue a death sentence to a defendant who was under 18 when the crime was committed.

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