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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Murder trial still in limbo

Thursday, October 30, 2008

After two years, SL man is determined mentally competent, but refuses his medication, causing his mental condition to deteriorate again

A Storm Lake man who is accused of murdering his brother and stabbing his parents in 2006 has never been tried for the crime or even entered a plea.

And shortly after state officials have finally declared him mentally competent to face a court hearing, Jose Tovar began refusing to take his state-prescribed medication, causing his mental condition to deteriorate to the point where he is again considerd incompetent to stand trial.

After two years and eight months spent mainly in the Buena Vista County Jail, state officials finally notified the county this month that a bed had opened up for Tovar at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale.

The case has drug on since February 19, 2006, when Tovar allegedly attacked and killed his brother Miguel, 21, with a large kitchen knife in the family's rented house at 2007 Seneca. He also is accused of stabbing his parents, Maria and Jose Tovar. They survived, and were airlifted for treatment.

Tovar was found at a neighborhood home where he had gone to call 911, covered in blood. An police officer reported at the time that Tovar had allegedly said that he was trying to "execute" his family. Multiple stab wounds were inflicted on all three victims.

The defense sought to have Tovar declared incompetent to stand trial. and in the months and years to follow, he has been repeatedly taken to Oakdale for treatments and evaluations, and returned to Storm Lake to be held at county expense. Sheriff's officials say the cost to house an inmate longterm is between $30-60 per day plus any transport costs.

According to state-appointed psychiatrist Dr. James Dennett, Tovar was sane at the time of the crime, but is not mentally capable of assisting in his defense.

Buena Vista County prosecution officials have continued to hope that Tovar could be brought to trial for the murder and attempted murders. If found guilty, he faces life in prison without chance of parole.

Even without a trial, life continues to be tumultuous for the man who has waited in jail since the killing, which took place when he was 18, still never declaring either his guilt or innocence in a courtroom.

Court records show orders to treat him forcibly if necessary with chemotherapy and other drugs. He has allegedly assaulted county officers at least twice, adding to the list of charges against him. He has been determined to be violent and a high risk to harm others, and cannot work with his attorneys. Court orders have been filed preventing any contact with his own surviving family members. He was said to be "non-restorable to competence," according to court documents.

After two years in jail in which he was consistently ruled incompetent, state psychological officials earlier this year suddenly reported that Tovar "had regained competency."

That declaration came the day before the second anniversary of Miguel Tovar's murder.

The wheels were put in motion toward a trial, with Judge John Duffy of Storm Lake appointed to preside. The state filed for a new hearing to determine competency to stand trial - and six months later, no hearing has been held or even scheduled.

Seven days after Tovar was determined to be psychologically competent, he began to refuse to take his medications in the county jail, and as state experts had predicted, without the medication his mental status rapidly deteriorated to the point where the experts again feel he is not competent to stand trial.

Tovar is to remain in custody at Oakdale for as long as it takes to attempt to restore him to competency, being treated with drugs against his will if necessary.

County Jail records say that Tovar is from Mexico, but does not list him either as a legal or illegal immigrant.

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