Soldier accused of taking stolen military vehicle on joyride plans to plead insanity

RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia National Guardsman accused of stealing an armored military vehicle from Fort Pickett will no longer be going on trial next week.

Joshua Yabut is charged with felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. His trial was scheduled for May 20, but that has now been continued.

The reason for the delay, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Terry Royall, is that Yabut’s lawyers have informed the court that the 30-year-old will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

“I have requested an independent sanity evaluation on behalf of the commonwealth,” Royall said.

A new hearing in Nottoway Circuit Court has been set for July 2.

Yabut made national headlines last June when investigators say he stole an armored personnel carrier from Fort Pickett in Blackstone and drove it more than 60 miles to Richmond, with multiple police officers in pursuit.

The chase came to an end in the middle of Broad Street, near City Hall. Yabut was taken into custody after climbing out of the vehicle.

He was later transported to Central State Hospital, where he was held for more than two months so that his mental condition could be evaluated. He was released in September.

Four months later, investigators say Yabut violated the conditions of his bond by taking an unauthorized flight out of the country and researching bomb-making.

Yabut is currently locked up in Richmond, where he’s charged with felony eluding police. A mental examination hearing in Richmond Circuit Court is slated for June 21.