Men accused of violent acts found fit to stand trial

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Two men charged with separate violent crimes – one accused of threatening to torture relatives with a machete before driving the family pickup truck off a cliff and the other accused of trying to kill a cop by repeatedly ramming the police officer’s motorcycle – have been found fit to stand trial after their mental states were called into question.

Philip Scott Newlyn, 28, of Elk Grove near Sacramento, who was awarded a Purple Heart medal in 2009 for pulling his fellow soldier from a burning Humvee, was arrested a year ago and stands accused of trying to kill a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer by ramming him repeatedly with a truck.

In February, Sean McClelland, 46, of Newhall, was ordered to continue his mental assessment for the next six months and return to court Aug. 2 for a “status update” on his continued assessment, Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told The Signal at the time.

On Wednesday, McClelland appeared in San Fernando Superior Court where the mental competency findings presented to the court indicated he was fit to proceed to trial, Santiago said Thursday.

Newlyn, who appeared in court Friday, was also found fit to stand trial, Santiago said.  He had been sent to the Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino for psychological assessment.

On the morning of Aug. 17, 2016, a veteran officer of the Los Angeles Police Department – with 12 years of motorcycle experience – was injured and taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital after being struck several times by a white full-size pickup truck, investigators said at the time.

Later that day CHP officers arrested former Air Force Staff Sergeant Philip Scott Newlyn.

Newlyn had returned to America from Iraq having survived an intense wartime experience.

Newlyn, who nearly lost his leg during an attack in Iraq, was given a hero’s welcome in December 2009, when he arrived in Sacramento from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

He had been serving a one-year tour in Iraq with the 9th Security Forces Squadron, which provides security for convoys, patrols and aircraft.

On Sept. 15, 2009, Newlyn was travelling with a convoy from a U.S. military base near Baghdad. An improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee.

Newlyn, who was himself injured, pulled the Humvee’s driver – rendered unconscious by the explosion – from the damaged vehicle.

What was he thinking when the LAPD motorcycle officer was repeatedly struck, as investigators claim?

On Sept. 1, Newlyn is expected to appear in court where this and similar questions are expected to be raised.

Likewise, McClelland is expected to appear in court Aug. 25 after he too was found fit to stand trial Tuesday.

McClelland was arrested July 4, 2016, on suspicion of kidnapping and assault after he allegedly threatened to take family members who were allegedly with him at the time into the mountain to torture them.

He then drove a family pickup truck off the side of a cliff – more than 500 feet down an embankment with his father in the truck.

For more than an hour prior to his arrest, McClelland eluded firefighters in the steep hillside brush south of Templin Highway off the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, near the freeway’s upper crossover after the pickup truck he was in crashed, officials said.

McClelland, who was injured, was transported to a hospital via a Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter.

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