An Island County Superior Court judge made the unusual decision of extending the time until a jailed defendant makes a preliminary appearance in court because of the woman’s “grave emotional disturbances,” court documents state.
Tara J. Hixson was arrested on suspicion of assault in the first degree, a domestic violence crime, on Jan. 13.
Under court rules, a person who is arrested and held in jail is supposed to be brought to court before the close of business on the next court day. During a preliminary appearance, a judge decides if the prosecutor has probable cause to believe the defendant committed an offense and sets bail or release conditions.
Hixson is being held in Island County Jail. She was scheduled to appear in court Jan. 14, but it was delayed a day because Jail Chief Jose Briones explained that she was unstable, potentially violent and refused to leave her cell.
The next day, a deputy prosecutor presented findings of fact to support a further extension of the preliminary appearance. The document cites a corrections deputy who said Hixson was in a state of psychosis and was assaultive to staff.
The document states that Hixson would have to be fully restrained in a chair and would likely “scream, growl and spit throughout any proceeding and that she would have little or no comprehension of the events.”
Judge Chris Skinner agreed to continue the hearing until Jan. 19.
Court documents show that Hixson was previously charged with felonies in three different different cases on Camano Island.
In a 2016 case, she was charged with burglary for entering a relative’s home without permission and in violation of a no-contact order. She was sent to a state facility for a competency evaluation and restoration; the court approved involuntary medication.