Monday, October 5, 2009

Judge: Suspect in Iowa coach death can stand trial

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A judge ruled Monday that the man accused of gunning down a legendary Iowa high school football coach is mentally competent to stand trial.
Mark D. Becker, 24, can appreciate the first-degree murder charges against him, understand the proceedings and assist with his defense, according to an order filed Monday by Butler County District Judge Stephen Carroll.
Becker had been scheduled to stand trial last month in the June shooting death of Aplington-Parkersburg High coach Ed Thomas, who led the team in northeast Iowa for 34 seasons and was named the NFL’s High School Coach of the Year in 2005.
The case was put on hold pending a mental competency ruling after experts agreed Becker, who once played for Thomas, hallucinates and suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, but differed on whether he was mentally fit to stand trial.
Carroll ordered a new trial date set.

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