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WASHINGTON (AP) – A man accused of killing two U.S. Capitol Police officers in 1998 can be forcibly medicated to make him mentally competent to stand trial, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

Russell E. Weston Jr., who has a 20-year history of paranoid schizophrenia, is charged with murder in the deaths of Jacob J. Chestnut and John M. Gibson, who were shot and killed at their posts inside the Capitol July 24, 1998.

He is also charged with the attempted murder of Officer Douglas B. McMillan and faces three lesser weapons charges in connection with events preced-ing his arrest. For nearly three years, Weston has refused to take medication to treat his mental ill-ness. His lawyers contend that forcible medication would vio-late his Fifth Amendment right to due process and violate his right to a fair trial.

“The government’s interest in administering anti-psychotic drugs to make Weston compe-tent for trial overrides his liberty interest,” Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The panel upheld a ruling issued in March by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.

Weston, 44, is from Valmeyer, Ill., and lived part-time near Helena, Mont., before his arrest

Since his arrest, Weston’s mental condition has continued to erode, according to mental health experts at a U.S. Bureau of Prisons hospital in Butner, N.C. He uses a cane or crutches to walk because of injuries he received when he was shot by police before his arrest.

More than a year ago, Dr. Sally Johnson, a psychiatrist and associate warden at the Federal Correctional Institute, testified that without treatment Weston’s condition would likely worsen. Although he remains at Butner, he has not been medicated pend-ing the decision by the appeals panel.

“The only thing we have left to do is petition the Supreme Court, and we will,” said A.J. Kramer, an attorney with the fed-eral public defender’s service. Kramer, who has represented Weston since his arrest, said he continues to have the support of his family.

“His parents come down to visit him from Illinois, and so does his sister,” Kramer said.

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