A 30-year-old first lieutenant in the Virginia Army National Guard has been deemed competent to stand trial after a 2½-month evaluation at Central State Hospital.

Joshua Phillip Yabut was charged after police said he took an armored vehicle from a training exercise at Fort Pickett and led them on a 65-mile pursuit that ended in downtown Richmond near Capitol Square on June 5.

He appeared in Richmond General District Court on Friday where his attorney and a Richmond prosecutor reached a deal that dismisses all but one charge against him.

Yabut initially faced one count each of driving under the influence of drugs, felony eluding police and felony unauthorized use of a vehicle. The DUI and authorized use charges were dismissed, while the felony elude count will go before a grand jury in circuit court. His next court date in Richmond has not been set.

He also faces a felony charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle in Nottoway County, where Fort Pickett is located.

Yabut, a company commander in the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion, was participating in an annual training when he drove away in an armored personnel carrier just before 8 p.m. A guard spokesman said he was not authorized to do so, nor was it part of the exercise.

The vehicle, an M577, rolls on treads like a tank but is unarmed and functions like a rolling office for command staff. It was one of many that had been set up for the training exercise that had begun a day earlier.

He has served in the guard for 11 years and deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 with the Illinois National Guard.

Since his release from Central State Hospital, where he was involuntarily committed after the incident to be restored to competency, Yabut has returned to posting to social media like Twitter. His profile shows a mix of interest from woodworking to cryptocurrency to military news. On Sept. 11, he posted: "i'm back from a 2.5 month involuntary mental hospital commitment" along with a photo of five pill bottles lined up.

Later that week, he posted a selfie with the caption: "lowkey missing jail."

On Wednesday, he responded to an Aug. 13 post from another Twitter user who asked "I wonder what the Richmond Tank Man is doing."

"just chillin getting ready for court tomorrow," Yabut replied.

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arockett@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6527

Twitter: @AliRockettRTD

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