Man charged with double murder could be freed

Posted: Tuesday, April 11, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man accused of killing his ex-wife and her roommate and then shooting himself in the head is back in Superior Court for a final competency hearing.

Doctors had determined that Mark Edwards had no chance of recovering enough of his memory to stand trial. Now, they have changed their minds and come to the conclusion that Edwards is faking his illness.

Edwards' failed suicide attempt after the December 1998 shootings left him blind and brain-damaged. But prosecutors say he's recovered to a remarkable degree and should stand trial. His defense attorney disagrees.

Edwards' third and final competency hearing began this month. Five medical experts are expected to testify. The state must dismiss the criminal charges against Edwards if he is deemed incompetent to stand trial. Edwards is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

The state has one year to treat mentally ill defendants in an effort to make them competent to stand trial. In early February, the state said it had successfully completed its treatment of Edwards and moved him from Alaska Psychiatric Institute to Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility.

''He falls well within what you would expect for a brain-injured person,'' API psychologist Larry Maile said outside a Superior Court room where the hearing continued Monday. He had originally said Edwards was unlikely to regain competency.

''He had a severe injury but a good recovery,'' Maile said.

Defense attorney Wally Tetlow said the state has repeatedly failed to prove that Edwards is competent. He said he will refer to testimony of a psychiatrist and a psychologist who say Edwards doesn't understand court proceedings and couldn't be malingering.

Edwards is charged with killing his ex-wife, 34-year-old Mona Edwards and her roommate, 41-year-old Maela Crabtree, at his ex-wife's home. Edwards was found on a downstairs bed next to his ex-wife. All had been shot in the head.

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