Accused rapist takes off from court


UNDERCOVER - The subject of a FOX Undercover investigation took off from court on Monday, just as a judge was about to consider stricter conditions on the suspect's freedom.

Burt Blair is charged with raping a woman who lived in his group home in 2008, but he's been found incompetent to stand trial and is a free man.

Blair's attorney, Lisa Freije, says her client showed up at Norfolk Superior Court, but became extremely anxious, partly because of the television news camera and took off. He was tracked down a few hours later at a day program he attends.
The judge put the hearing on hold until June, frustrating the alleged victim's mother who believes Blair should be locked up until he can go on trial.

"Well I'm very disappointed," said the mother.

Blair was in a locked state facility after his arrest until the end of 2009, and has been found incompetent to stand trial.

"Do you think Mr. Blair is a danger to the community?" asked FOX Undercover's Mike Beaudet.

"Well I do," said the mother. "He was definitely a danger to my daughter, which seems to be overlooked by everybody in this courtroom."

"There's every reason to believe this is a false accusation," said Freije, Blair's attorney, who requested the case be pushed back to June.

Freije described her client as a paranoid schizophrenic who's friendly and well liked in the community.

"He's not a danger to himself or others. He's not a violent person," said Freije. "It's just that he needs time to calm down, and he usually does that by going to his room and listening to music."

Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Lisa Beatty initially asked the judge to issue an arrest warrant to force Blair to come to court, but then said she would be willing to postpone the hearing, but not until June. Beatty had been expected to ask the judge to place restrictions on Blair's release, if the hearing took place with Blair present.

"I don't mean to be overly draconian about this," said Beatty. "I'm happy to wait. I'm happy to try again, but to me waiting until June fourth is just too long."

But Judge Kenneth Fishman sided with Blair's attorney, leaving Blair free with no additional restrictions placed on him.

"I don't have any reason to believe from the doctors that reported that in his present environment, that he's presenting any danger to himself or others," said Fishman.

"To say he's not a danger is absurd," responded the alleged victim's mother.

"What do you worry could happen with this man out there?" asked Beaudet.

"I'm worried that he could do this to any neighbor where he's living now," responded the mother.

The alleged victim's mother wonders if Blair really ever showed up to court Monday.

She believes Blair's attorney is using the media attention of the case to delay the hearing, something Blair's attorney denies.

The case is raising questions about the number of people charged with violent crimes who are found incompetent to stand trial, and released into the community.

The state Trial Court tells us FOX Undercover doesn't track those numbers.

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