HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Roaring Spring man who contends he is not subject to Pennsylvania's traffic laws was released from custody Friday by Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron after the judge made it clear he rejects the man's "sovereign citizen defense."
Milliron warned Todd Alan Detwiler, 61, that if he comes before the court again on charges he broke the law, the judge will uphold "the integrity of the legal system over all other concerns."
The judge said that he would review Detwiler's case in another nine months to determine if he is legally competent to answer for alleged past traffic infractions, and with that, he released Detwiler into the custody of his mother.
Detwiler has spent eight months in the Blair County Prison and the Torrance State Hospital, first landing behind bars when he wouldn't sign court papers after he was cited for traffic offenses and then presenting what police consider false papers to gain the release of his motorcycle from a local towing service on July 8, 2013.
The police affidavit charges that Detwiler was driving with a makeshift cardboard license plate bearing the term "dei gratia" written on the bottom, meaning "by the grace of God."
When stopped by Roaring Spring Police Chief Milton Fields, Detwiler, it is charged, was unable to show a valid driver's license, registration card or proof of insurance.
Detwiler instead produced a copy of a letter to the attorneys general in Pennsylvania and Maryland declaring himself to be a "trust" and a "traveler" on the highways.
He was eventually charged with having an unregistered vehicle, no valid inspection, not wearing proper head gear, no license, failure to carry a license, altering the title to the vehicle and fraudulent use/removal of a license plate.
When Detwiler was placed in the county prison after refusing to sign court papers, he went on a hunger strike, his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Julia Burke, confirmed Friday.
He was then sent to Torrance for a mental health evaluation and was found not competent to stand trial.
Torrance recently indicated that Detwiler would not benefit from additional treatment at the facility and released him back to Blair County.
That's why Milliron held a hearing Friday and decided to release Detwiler.
While Detwiler may not believe in certain laws, both the judge and his attorney noted he had no prior criminal record and was not considered a danger to the community.
Milliron said the competency review for Detwiler will be scheduled before him in nine months.
He will hear the case, he said, "to save other judges from the torturous experience this court has endured."
The judge's concern was that Detwiler will continue to break the law. That is why he said he would not allow the defendant to use the so-called sovereign citizen defense.
Burke described Detwiler as a "very respectful" individual who has spent a lot of time in custody stemming from offenses that would normally be handled at the magisterial district judge level.
Milliron has had experience with the sovereign citizen defense.
In 2013, he presided over the Don R. Ickes case in which Ickes of Osterburg was stopped for a traffic violation by state police.
It was found he was driving with a license plate issued by the "Embassy of Heaven."
Ickes refused to get out of his car when asked by state police and had to be forcibly removed. He was found guilty of resisting arrest, harassment and 13 traffic violations.
Milliron placed him on probation.
Detwiler is to be under the care of the Bedford-Somerset County Mental Health Agency.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.