Days before a scheduled jury trial for a Hoonah man accused of shooting two police officer gets underway, another mental examination has been scheduled to determine the defendant’s mental competency.
John Marvin, Jr., 47, is accused of killing Matt Tokuoka and Tony Wallace over two years ago in Hoonah. After the shooting, he allegedly engaged in a standoff with other officers for nearly a day before he surrendered.
Court proceedings have been delayed for nearly two years as Marvin has been put through multiple examinations to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.
He was declared incompetent in January after three psychologists testified to his inability or unwillingness to communicate with his defense attorney. That postponed a potential jury trial indefinitely. Then after competency restoration treatment, Marvin was declared competent at a hearing held in June. Trial was scheduled to start Monday, October 22nd.
Public defender Eric Hedland submitted another request for a mental evaluation on Friday, October 12th. Hedland says he recorded recent conversations with Marvin that demonstrate his inability to communicate with his client. He sent copies of the recordings to Dr. David Sperbeck, one of the psychologists who has already evaluated Marvin’s culpability and competency.
Sperbeck said in court on Monday that it didn’t appear that anything had changed. He believes that Marvin is competent to stand trial, but he’s not willing to stand trial.
“He was extremely controlling; very frustrating to try to communicate with. He was insistent. He was overly focused on irrelevant minutiae,”said Dr. Sperbeck. “He would not let Mr. Hedland, basically, get a word in edgewise.”
Superior Court Judge David George sought a way for Dr. Sperbeck to do a one-on-one updated evaluation before trial starts on Monday. Because of Thursday’s state holiday, Dr. Sperbeck’s regular client load, and travel that takes him out of state on Friday, it was finally determined that Marvin would be immediately transported to Anchorage. Marvin will be evaluated there in a session that will likely last only ten- to thirty minutes based on his past history of not cooperating with psychologists. He’ll then be transported almost immediately back down to Juneau. Judge George said Marvin must be physically present in court for any evaluation hearing.
“I apprecriate the accommodation, your honor,” said Hedland.
For most of Monday’s proceeding, Marvin said nothing and sat at the defendants table dressed in red prison garb, waist and leg shackles. But then mid-way through discussion for scheduling another evaluation, Marvin interjected with an objection and slapped the table three times. Two judicial services officers sitting near the rear of the courtroom immediately got to their feet and positioned themselves behind Marvin.
“You shouldn’t be doing an important case with a high-ranked royal… You should be here present,” said Marvin, trying to talk over other court participants as they continued with their discussion. “It is illegal to have this kind of proceeding. You’re embarrassing.”
Marvin apparently was upset that Judge David George presided over the half-hour hearing telephonically from Sitka.
Almost forgotten until the end was a motion from District Attorney Dave Brower opposing another evaluation. But Judge George dispensed with it fairly quickly.
“I think it’s better to be on the safe side at this point,” said Judge George. “Considering trial is next week, we certainly will have the most up-to-date evaluation without the passage of time going on and the dynamics changing.”
“That’s fine,” replied Brower.
After the hearing – when the sound system was turned off – Marvin loudly talked with Hedland in a conversation heard all the way in the back of the courtroom. Marvin said it was absurd that another evaluation had been planned. Hedland told him that he had requested it.
Judge George expects jury selection to take up most of Monday and Tuesday.
Marvin faces murder and weapons misconduct charges for the deaths of Tokuoka and Wallace on August 28, 2010.
A charge of a felon in possession of a firearm may be bifurcated or separated out at trial.
- A lot of science involves happy accidents. A retired scientist from Oregon stepped off the ferry in Sitka late last month, and on a hunch decided to look around the woods for an old friend.
- The Mat-Su Borough Assembly approved Tuesday the transfer of over a half-million dollars from existing funds to pay for repairs to the Port Mackenzie barge dock, although some expressed reservations about the port’s continuing costs.
- The Senate's long-awaited "Better Care Reconciliation Act" was written largely in secret, with even many Senate Republicans unaware of what was in it.
- The potential government shutdown would come at the busiest -- and worst -- time for the state office that processes teacher certifications. And unresolved state education funding is compounding the teacher hiring crunch.