Man accused of stealing armored vehicle found not guilty by reason of insanity

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NOTTOWAY, Va. (WWBT) — The man accused of driving a stolen armored personnel carrier from Nottoway County through the streets of Richmond has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Joshua Philip Yabut was arrested June 5, 2018, after police say he took the armored vehicle from Fort Pickett while serving in the Virginia National Guard.

Yabut was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, felony eluding and unauthorized use of a vehicle in Richmond. His DUI and unauthorized use charges were set aside in Sept. 2018. He also faced a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and violation of his bond out of Nottoway County.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in Nottoway County Monday morning where a judge accepted both pleas.

“[The judge] commits Mr. Yabut to go to Central State Hospital for a 45 day evaluation,” said Amy Austin, Yabut’s attorney. “There doctors will evaluate him and send a report back to the judge.”

“Yabut will be evaluated by a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist regarding his mental condition and need for hospitalization and treatment,” said Nottoway County Commonwealth Attorney Leanne Watrous.

Yabut is scheduled to undergo a mental evaluation hearing Oct. 4 to determine whether he is in need of inpatient hospitalization.

“Mr. Yabut is doing pretty well," Austin said. "He’s a very understanding person and knows this process has been long and involved, but the end result is something he wants to have happen, which is address the issues that brought him here in the first place.”

Shortly after Yabut’s arrest clinicians at Central State Hospital and a mental health examiner, selected by the Nottoway Commonwealth’s Attorney, conducted evaluations on Yabut.

Watrous said the three licensed clinical psychologists evaluated Yabut and agreed that he was not sane at the time of the offense.

“I think the prosecutors were doing their job and they did it in an admiral way because they let the system work," Austin said. "I think everyone involved has been working toward what’s best for the community and what’s best for the defendant, Mr. Yabut in this case.”

Prior to his trial, Yabut had been granted a $5,000 secured bond that came with the condition he wear a GPS monitoring device and not leave the state.

His tracker indicated he traveled to Florida and then to Canada, in January 2019. Yabut confirmed he had made the trip in court and also confirmed he had traveled to Iraq and Turkey while under the restrictions.

“Yabut stated he had no coherent reason for the travel,” court documents said. The reason cited was “photography.”

Yabut, a 1st lieutenant assigned as the commander of the Petersburg-based Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, was accused of taking the APC from Fort Pickett and driving it up I-95, through the city of Richmond driving down The Boulevard in Scott’s Addition, along Broad Street in “The Fan” before surrendering at East Broad and 11th Streets at 9:40 p.m.

A spokesman for the Virginia National Guard said they’re awaiting the outcome of the Richmond case before determining Yabut’s status.