Accused Appalachian Trail killer will use insanity defense

James A. Jordan, the hiker accused of killing fellow thru-hiker and Iraq War veteran Ron Sanchez, and seriously wounding an anonymous female hiker, says that he was insane at the time of the crimes, WBIR reports. Jordan’s lawyer filed the notice last week in Abingdon, Va. U.S District Court, where Jordan is being held while awaiting trial.

Jordan is accused of stabbing Sanchez to death in May 2019 after he encountered him along the trail in Wythe County, Va. Before the stabbing, Jordan had threatened and intimidated other hikers along the trail, authorities say. 

The night of the murder, Jordan confronted Sanchez and three other hikers along the trail. When the group set up camp that night, Jordan appeared again and threatened to burn them in their tents. The hikers tried to leave, and Jordan pulled a knife. Two hikers ran and Jordan chased them, but the hikers escaped. Jordan then approached Sanchez and a female hiking companion. As the female hiker watched, Jordan stabbed Sanchez to death.

Reports show that the female hiker ran and, as she began to tire, Jordan caught up with her and stabbed her, too. She played dead and Jordan left to “find his dog,” according to an affidavit. The injured female hiker than ran down the trail and encountered a male and female hiker who helped her walk 6 miles and call for help.

Jordan has a history of mental illness but was deemed fit to stand trial back in June after months of treatment and evaluation at the federal Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C. At the time, a judge found no “reasonable” cause to believe Jordan was suffering a mental disease or defect. 

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