PASCO, Wa. — The 34-year-old man charged with fatally stabbing a Pasco school bus driver in front of 35 elementary students is going to get a mental health evaluation.

Joshua Dian Davis' criminal case will be put on hold until a state psychologist weighs in on the Richland man's competency.

Defense attorney Shelley Ajax requested the evaluation on Tuesday during a hearing that lasted just five minutes in Franklin County Superior Court.

"Your honor, I met with Mr. Davis with the investigator in the jail almost immediately after the appointment (to represent him), and he agrees with me that it is very vital to do an Eastern State Hospital evaluation at this time, immediately," Ajax told Judge Jacqueline Stam.

Davis is charged with first-degree murder for the Sept. 24 death of Richard "Dick" Lenhart.

The suspect is being held on $1 million bail.

Davis appeared in court for the hearing via video feed from the jail, while Ajax attended by phone.

Meanwhile, Lenhart's wife, Nancy, and other loved ones were in the courtroom.

Lenhart, 72, had been a driver for the Pasco School District for six years.

He was remembered last Saturday with a parade of school buses in Pasco and people lining 10th Avenue up to Longfellow Elementary School, where Lenhart's attack happened.

Supporters and the buses — which came from across the region and state — carried messages of encouragement and the number "4," the number of Lenhart's bus route.

Pasco police say Davis drove his own truck to the nearby neighborhood and parked about 3 p.m. Sept. 24.

He ran toward the parked bus in front of the school and appeared to be unarmed as he approached, leading Lenhart to open the doors to see what Davis wanted, according to court documents.

Davis got on the bus and, according to security footage, asked if the bus went to Road 100.

When Lenhart said it did not, Davis turned to leave, then pulled out a knife, and turned back and stabbed the driver, documents said.

During the attack, Lenhart's foot slipped off the brake and the bus rolled forward, over a curb and was stopped by landscaping and a tree.

Then, Davis reportedly got off the crashed bus without any threat to the children. He waited for police to arrive, but refused to talk with officers, instead asking for a lawyer.

Police have said they do not believe there is any connection between Lenhart and Davis, or that the two knew each other.

The evaluation of Davis likely will be done at the Medical Lake facility. A review hearing is scheduled Nov. 16.

This story was originally published October 12, 2021 4:59 PM.

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(c)2021 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

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