Accused Hoonah shooter declared incompetent to stand trial

John Marvin, Jr. (right) and Grace Lee from the Public Defender's office (center) both listen as District Attorney Dave Brower (left foreground) makes a point during the first part of a competency hearing on Friday. Photo by Matt Miller-KTOO News

John Marvin, Jr. is not currently competent to stand trial. The judge who was expected to preside over Marvin’s murder trial made that determination during the conclusion of a hearing on Monday.

The 46-year old Marvin faces weapons misconduct and murder charges in connection with the shooting of Hoonah police officers Tony Wallace and Matt Tokuoka on August 28, 2010. The incident allegedly included Marvin holding officers at bay and refusing to surrender until a day after the shooting.

Superior Court Judge David George on Monday listened to testimony by a psychologist who tried to interview and evaluate Marvin, but he found that Marvin was evasive, uncooperative, hostile, controlling, disorganized, and delusional. Doctor David Sperbeck, currently of Northstar Behavioral Hospital, believed that Marvin understood the court process and the nature of the charges against him, but his unwillingness or inability to communicate effectively make it unlikely that Marvin could help his attorney in his defense.

Two other psychologists previously issued opinions that differed on whether Marvin was competent to stand trial. They testified on their findings back in September.

Monday’s ruling in Juneau Superior Court means that a jury trial scheduled to start January 30th has been postponed indefinitely. The next hearing in the case is in April.

Judge George committed Marvin to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute in Anchorage. Yet to be determined is whether his stay there will include competency rehabilitation. Sperbeck believed that Marvin’s competency was restorable, possibly with involuntary administration of psychotropic drugs. But he acknowledged that part of his findings were inferred by observations of Marvin with his attorney or others at A.P.I., since Marvin refused to participate in a direct interview with him.

Marvin only spoke twice during the hearing, exclaiming “I object” both times when Sperbeck spoke about Marvin’s apparent culpability in the crime. Judge George told Marvin to ask his defense attorney to make any statements or ask questions instead of speaking out of turn in court.

The hearing was started on Friday, but it was continued until Monday morning because of technical problems with the phone system at the Dimond Courthouse in Juneau.

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