Marvin declared competent to stand trial

John Marvin, Jr.

John Marvin, Jr. is escorted into Juneau Superior Court on Monday morning by Judicial Services officers. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News.

John Marvin, Jr. – the man accused of shooting and killing two Hoonah police officers nearly two years ago – has been declared competent to stand trial.

Superior Court Judge David George made the determination Monday after listening to two psychologists provide their own slightly different assessment of Marvin. Judge George partly directed his comments to Public Defender Eric Hedland who has had issues communicating with his client.

“But I don’t think – based upon the evidence before me – that it’s been demonstrated by a prepondence of the evidence that it’s a result of a mental disease or defect,” said Judge George.

Marvin himself was in the courtroom seated next to his attorney, dressed in red prison garb, and cuffed with waist and leg chains. Marvin occasionally interrupted Hedland throughout the hearing with objections about the apparent line of questioning.

Superior Court Judge David George

Superior Court Judge David George explains his reasoning during Monday’s competency hearing. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News.

Haley Tokuoka, wife of fallen officer Matt Tokuoka, is relieved that there may be justice after all.

“I was just very happy! I just said ‘Yay!,” said Tokuoka. “Because I feel like we’re moving forward and once this is over (then) the family can move on.”

Marvin faces murder and weapons misconduct charges for the August 28, 2010 killing of Tokuoka and fellow Hoonah officer Tony Wallace. Marvin also allegedly engaged in a stand-off with other law enforcement officers for nearly 24 hours after the shooting.

Judge George is the same judge who in January declared Marvin incompetent after getting opinions from three psychologists. He believed that Marvin understood the nature of the charges against him, but he could not adequately help his attorney with his defense.

At the time, Judge George committed Marvin to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute in Anchorage. The judge explained that Monday’s hearing was a statutorily required review.

Dr. Lois Michaud, forensic psychologist at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, says Marvin understands the court process. She believes that Marvin is not delusional and is competent to stand trial.

“When Mr. Marvin begins to talk about his version of things, I believe that he is not being forthright,” said Dr. Michaud. “I believe that there is a strong possibility that he could be malingering.”

Dr. David Sperbeck had earlier determined that Marvin would be incompetent because he could not provide relevant testimony or help his attorney with crucial facts. But, on Monday, Dr. Sperbeck said he had a different view after another evaluation.

“He remains guarded, oppositional, very controlling,” said Dr. Sperbeck. “He comes across as very gamey.”

Sperbeck said Marvin suffers from delusional paranoid disorder with overtones of grandiose and persecuted feelings.

“He is obviously not a normal person,” said Sperbeck.

Defense Attorney Eric Hedland and John Marvin, Jr.

Defense Attorney Eric Hedland and John Marvin, Jr. listen during Monday’s competency hearing. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News.

A few members of the Marvin family appeared in Juneau Superior Court on Monday to observe the proceedings. But they did not remain available to answer questions afterward.

Haley Tokuoka and her niece – accompanying her for moral support – also watched from the courtroom gallery. Tokuoka said it’s been especially hard for her two children, now ages 3 and 8. She said both watched Wallace, a best friend to the family, go down. Tokuoka said they’ve moved to Juneau for her children’s health care. She said both children suffer from attachment, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders stemming from the shooting.

“We’re making progress,” said Tokuoka. “And we’ll be very happy once this is all over.”

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for October 15th with a jury trial planned to start October 22nd. It’s expected to last two weeks.

Rule 45 clock tolled

Every defendant is supposed to be tried within 120 days of being charged. In Alaska, it’s commonly referred to as Rule 45, or the Speedy Trial Rule, and it derives from the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy and public trial. But that clock can be stopped for special circumstances like Marvin’s competency evaluations and hearings. Monday’s ruling means that the clock would start running again with only 22 days left.

Both District Attorney Dave Brower and defense attorney Eric Hedland mutually agreed that it would be impossible to prepare for a trial within the next three weeks or even hold a trial sometime in the next few months. Both attorneys are already occupied with other high-profile cases going to trial throughout the summer. Judge George determined that there was sufficient cause or reason to toll or suspend the clock.

(Edit: Corrected Dr. Sperbeck’s first name.)

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