Crime & Courts

Judge dismisses case against man, 91, charged in shooting death of wife

An Anchorage Superior Court judge dismissed all charges against an elderly man who stood accused of shooting and killing his wife because the man wasn't mentally capable of standing trial, according to District Attorney Clint Campion.

Duane Marvin, 91, had second- and first-degree murder charges dismissed without prejudice after a Wednesday morning hearing.

Judge Michael Corey ruled Marvin was not competent to go through a trial. Campion said the court believes the defendant is unable to understand the proceedings and incapable of assisting his attorney.

Marvin turned himself in on May 15, saying he shot and killed his wife, Charlotte, 92, in an upstairs bedroom of their Midtown Anchorage home, according to the charges.

Marvin told police he shot his wife in the back of the head and then hid the murder weapon. He said, "I killed my wife and I don't know why," the charges say.

[91-year-old suspect tells police 'I killed my wife and I don't know why']

Marvin made an initial appearance at a jail courtroom two days later, and the presiding district court judge agreed to release him to family after hearing from a granddaughter who said he had dementia.

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Early in the court process, Marvin was sent to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute by order of a judge for an evaluation. According to Campion, Dr. Kristy Becker diagnosed Marvin with neuro-cognitive disorder, or dementia.

"As a result of that diagnosis, Dr. Becker thought (Marvin) could not be restored, and restoration has to do with whether it's believed someone can be medicated or rehabilitated enough to become competent. She didn't think that was possible," Campion said.

But Judge Corey ordered a second evaluation. Campion said the doctor testified at Wednesday's hearing that her initial observations were consistent a second time around.

Corey decided to dismiss Marvin's charges without prejudice, which allows prosecutors to charge Marvin again in the future. That kind of dismissal is required by law because of the competency ruling.

When asked if he was comfortable with the conclusion of the case, Campion said, "I think Dr. Becker did an adequate job with her evaluation, and based on what she was required to do, she fulfilled her obligations. The court did what the law requires. I'll leave it at that."

Campion noted that anyone found incompetent to stand trial is prohibited under federal law to possess firearms.

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.

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