Brad Scott Compher – the man accused of killing Nori Jones in Pocatello in 2004 – was back in court Monday to determine whether or not he’s competent to stand trial.
Compher is charged with first-degree murder and enhancement with a deadly weapon in the killing of 25-year-old Nori Jones. Jones was fatally stabbed multiple times in her home on Pole Line Road more than 10 years ago.
Compher was arrested in 2014 after advances in DNA technology brought new evidence to light.
After a case that waited 10 years for an arrest, and is now going on four years in court, many are anxious to see its conclusion.
The question facing the court now: is Compher competent to stand trial? Can he consent to treatment? Can he make knowing decisions in his defense?
In court Monday, a motion was filed by the defense to have Compher declared incompetent for trial and have him committed to the State Department of Health and Welfare.
The prosecution filed an objection to that motion.
In court, the judge heard arguments from both sides. Judge Stephen Dunn also looked at the competency and health evaluation the defense provided from its expert, a licensed psychiatrist out of Utah.
Judge Dunn felt that the evaluation was valid and credible. He said he did see there were some mental health issues and looking at the results, would not believe Compher was competent to go to trial at this time.
“There’s no question that this report raises questions about his fitness to proceed,” the judge stated in court. “With a serious question about his competency, we can’t go to court with questions.”
Brian Trammell, deputy prosecuting attorney on the case, said the state didn’t agree.
“The state had a couple of issues with the report,” Trammell said. “The state didn’t feel it complied with Idaho law at this point in time.”
It didn’t meet part of the requirement under Idaho law 18-211, part D.
“Basically, part D, which was the argument the state was making today was that there wasn’t an opinion on whether the defendant, in this case Compher, lacked the capacity to make decisions about his treatment,” Trammell clarified. “The state would like to see what that evaluation is before we continue on.”
Judge Dunn ruled that because the evaluation did not directly provide an answer to that question, and that information would be important moving forward, that an updated evaluation be given.
Dunn ruled that the doctor give an updated evaluation, addressing part D and bring that back to the state. If the state wants to then contest those findings, an evidentiary hearing would have to be held regarding Compher’s competency status. The doctor would be brought in to testify, among other things. It would further delay the status of Compher’s case.
If the state accepts the findings, the judge can rule. If the judge deems Compher incompetent to stand trial, Trammell said that’s not the end of the road for Compher’s case. Compher would be sent to the Health and Welfare Department for further evaluation and/or treatment.
“It’s not dismissed,” he said. “In a sense, it’s just stalled. Essentially, if the court does send him to the department of health and welfare, and this is in any case, then they’ll be evaluated. And if they feel there’s treatment and they can bring them up to the level the court feels they’re ready to proceed for a trial, that’ll happen.”
The doctor has two weeks to get back with an updated evaluation. The state would then have a few days to look at the findings and decides its stance. The judge hopes to have the evaluation and a decision from the prosecution by Jan. 24 to move forward.
The state is seeking the death penalty for Compher.