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PSYCHIATRISTS GET 30 DAYS TO TEST MAN HELD IN CITY HALL HATCHET ATTACK

City Judge Shirley Troutman ruled Wednesday that psychiatrists can have the 30 days they say they need to determine the competency of Vincent J. DiPasquale, the man accused of last week's hatchet attack on a city employee.

Assistant District Attorney Carol G. Bridge, meanwhile, told the court the case will be presented next Wednesday to an Erie County grand jury. But defense lawyers indicated they might ask a higher court to delay the grand jury proceeding.

DiPasquale, 56, of Merrimac Street, is charged with assault and possession of a weapon in the July 15 attack on Anthony J. Luppino, a planner in the city's Office of Environment who also represents the West District on the Buffalo School Board.

The defendant, who was present at Wednesday's court proceeding, has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation in Erie County Medical Center since Friday.

Dr. Joseph Liebergall, director of the Erie County's Forensic Mental Health Services, requested the 30-day period of examination.

Because DiPasquale suffers "acute agitation," psychiatrists need to observe him over a period of time to determine to his "overall competency," he said.

Mrs. Bridge supported Liebergall's request, pointing out that state law gives the court the authority to hold a defendant for 30 days for forensic testing and to extended that period if necessary.

Defense Attorney Thomas Eoannou argued that doctors can determine competency in a much shorter time. He said three psychiatrists already have examined DiPasquale and only two examinations are necessary to determine competency.

He contended that delaying a competency decision would make DiPasquale unavailable to defend himself before the grand jury and, therefore, deny him that right.

In response, Judge Troutman suggested Eoannou and Patrick J. Kane, co-defense counsel, consider appealing to a higher court -- in this case to Erie County Judge Timothy J. Drury, who oversees the grand jury.

Judge Troutman scheduled further City Court proceedings for Aug. 18.

Luppino suffered a two-inch gash. He reportedly was attacked because DiPasquale was disgruntled about being passed over for appointment to a new environmental steering committee.

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