URBANA — The U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District intends to retry a Tennessee man on charges that he tried to get a Champaign girl to have sex with him in 2012.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael McCuskey declared a mistrial Thursday in the case of Joseph Cain Harrison, 36, of LaVergne, Tenn., after Harrison collapsed during a recess in his trial and was taken to Carle Hospital.
On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson said she "absolutely" intends to retry Harrison.
Not knowing how long Harrison might be treated, McCuskey declared the mistrial and sent home the jurors who had been chosen Monday and heard more than two days' worth of evidence. Harrison was released from Carle within hours of being taken there about 11 a.m.
On Friday, he remained in the Macon County jail, where he's been held while awaiting his federal trial.
McCuskey ordered that Harrison be taken to a federal medical center to be evaluated after watching and listening to him testify.
"I found his actions disturbing, disjointed, illogical," the judge said, adding that on Wednesday Harrison didn't want to testify but on Thursday he did.
Among the things Harrison testified to was that he had hit his head in a car accident in August 2011 that caused him memory loss and to believe he was 18 at the time he was pursuing the Champaign girl. Harrison was clearly nervous during the approximately 35 minutes he was on the stand and apologized more than once for losing his train of thought.
However, Peirson said Harrison had made the injury and memory loss claim during an earlier psychological evaluation and that it delayed his case being tried for six months — facts that Harrison's attorney already knew.
"The conclusion of the psychological exam was that he was stable and able to assist in his defense. That was the diagnosis then and I expect that will be the diagnosis now," she said, urging the judge not to declare the mistrial.
It's unknown how long it will be before the retrial can take place. It depends on how soon Harrison can be evaluated and what the results of that evaluation might be. Harrison's previous examination was done at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, a federal facility.
There are six other federal medical centers around the country where that evaluation could be done.
McCuskey entered the order for the examination on Thursday.
Currently on senior status, McCuskey is not expected to be on the bench after the end of May.