Gunman seeks psych evaluation

A man who was last week sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison will undergo a psychiatric evaluation before facing state charges.

Benjamin Crisantos, 23, is charged with shooting a Marshalltown police officer after he and an accomplice robbed the Lennox Employees Credit Union at gunpoint last fall.

Judge James Ellefson on Friday ordered Crisantos undergo a psychiatric evaluation after his attorney, John Haney, filed an application for competency determination.

According to court documents, the state agrees there is probable cause that Crisantos is suffering from a mental disorder which prevents him from understanding the charges, proceedings and assisting in his own defense. Until an evaluation has been completed, further proceedings are suspended.

Paul Crawford, assistant Marshall County attorney, said the allegations of mental incompetency do need to be evaluated to avoid problems later.

“I certainly feel he knew what he was doing when the crimes occurred,” Crawford said. “Whether he’s competent to stand trial now is what the psychiatric evaluation is for.”

Crisantos is charged by the state with attempted murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree theft, assault while participating in a felony, willful injury, extortion and assault while causing injury to a peace officer.

Crisantos was sentenced Nov. 7 after he pleaded guilty in June to armed bank robbery and possession of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

He was ordered to serve 190 months in prison, which will be served concurrently with any state sentence.

His accomplice, Abel Ramirez, is sentenced to 14 years in prison for the crimes. According to online documents, Ramirez has a pretrial conference scheduled for next week.