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Competency to be re-evaluated for Utah man accused in stabbing

Published February 5, 2013 8:21 pm

Courts • Howe claims he was on Ambien during June stabbing.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 22-year-old West Bountiful man accused of stabbing his teenage relative last summer will have his competency re-evaluated, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Mitchell Dean Howe is charged in 2nd District Court with attempted murder, a first-degree felony.

In November, three mental health evaluators ruled Howe was competent to stand trial on the charges. But on Tuesday, defense attorney Greg Skordas said those same evaluators will be reviewing Howe's mental state again.

"There were some issues that were not addressed in the prior evaluations that we had to reconsider and look at," Skordas said.

Skordas said the re-evaluation was due to Howe's incarceration affecting his mental state. Howe has been held in the Davis County Jail since the incident.

"When a person is incarcerated, they don't necessarily get all their counseling and medication," Skordas said.

Attorney Angela Elmore, who previously represented Howe, questioned Howe's competency in July because of his mental health history involving bipolar disorder.

West Bountiful police Chief Todd Hixson said in June that police were called to a home near 1200 North and 640 West around 1:30 a.m. on June 27.

When they arrived, police discovered Howe had allegedly stabbed a juvenile in the torso with a large knife while the boy slept.

Howe said in a letter he wrote to Judge Glen Dawson in December that he took an Ambien the night he stabbed his 14-year-old cousin, and didn't fully remember the event.

"I was prescribed Ambien, a drug intended to help me sleep," Howe wrote. "It causes sleep walking and numerous other side effects including amnesia. I have a choppy recollection of the events and am deeply horrified by [the] tragedy I have caused."

Howe noted in his letter that the drug did not show up in a blood test. Skordas said Tuesday that they don't plan to use Howe's claim of being under the influence of Ambien as a defense strategy at trial.

Howe is scheduled to be in court on April 6 for the results of the competency review.

jmiller@sltrib.comTwitter: @jm_miller