Competency evaluation could delay trial in Hoonah shooting case

A Sitka judge wants another opinion on whether John Marvin, Jr. is competent to stand trial for the shooting of two Hoonah police officers last year.

Superior Court Judge David George heard a set of different diagnoses during a competency hearing in Juneau on Tuesday. Judge George says another exam would help preserve Marvin’s rights while protecting the record for a potential appeal in the case.

Dr. Lawrence Maile, clinical director at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute in Anchorage, says Marvin is “competent to stand trial and has the capacity to assist in his own defense.” Maile believes Marvin suffers from anti-social personality disorder and alcohol abuse. He believes that Marvin understands the charges alleged and the court process already underway.

Dr. Fred Wise, clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Washington, says Marvin suffers from a delusional disorder and possibly an additional disorder that may be organically-based, such as what might be brought on by a tumor or brain injury. Wise, who examined Marvin for his defense, says that he suffers from a form of thought disorganization that’s not easily faked. During exams, Marvin would question why he was in jail and talk about being a “High Royal” or an “innocent.” Wise’s notes from his interviews seem to echo Marvin’s outbursts made during his first appearances in court last year.

A third expert who testified during Tuesday’s hearing only examined Marvin on his culpability in the crime, not his competency to stand trial. Dr. David Sperbeck, who identified himself as chief of psychology at Northstar Hospital in Anchorage, says Marvin would likely be found “guilty, but mentally ill.” Sperbeck’s own conclusion included major elements of diagnosis from the previous two experts. He also explained that diagnosing a mentally ill defendant may be complicated by differences in environment. He compared the comfortable setting at A.P.I. against the hostile, noisy atmosphere at Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau. Sperbeck, who examined Marvin for the prosecution, says he found Marvin “responsive, evasive, and gamey” in answering questions. Sperbeck examined Marvin on his culpability in the crime, not his competency to stand trial.

Judge George asked Sperbeck to do a follow-up evaluation on Marvin’s competency.

The 46-year old Marvin is being charged with murder and weapons misconduct in connection with the shooting of Hoonah officers Tony Wallace and Matt Tokuoka on August 28, 2010. Responding officers say Marvin held them at bay for at least a day following the shooting.

A jury trial in the case had been scheduled for last December and was recently rescheduled for October 17. But that date could be pushed into next year with another examination.

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