Becker Competent to Stand Trial

Mark Becker, right, enters the courtroom for his mental competency hearing and walks past Ellie Thomas, left, and Jan Thomas, right, wife of Ed Thomas, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009 in Mason City, Iowa. Becker, 24, is charged with first-degree murder for the June 24 shooting of Aplington-Parkersburg coach Ed Thomas. (AP Photo/The Waterloo Courier, Matthew Putney)

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By Aaron Hepker

ALLISON - A Butler County judge has found Mark Becker mentally competent to stand trial for the murder of coach Ed Thomas. Becker is accused of shooting Thomas in the weight room at Aplington-Parkersburg High School on June 24th. A short time later, police arrested Becker at his parent's home.

Becker's attorneys argued he was not mentally competent to stand trial. But a judge ruled despite a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, Becker is mentally fit to understand the first degree murder charge against him.

At the request of Becker’s attorney, psychologist Dr. Dan Rogers evaluated Becker. At the request of prosecutors, psychologist Dr. Michael Taylor also met with Becker. Both doctors presented their findings to the judge.

In speaking with Taylor, Becker was described a “calm, relaxed, pleasant” young man who was able to joke. He was forthcoming, candid, pleasant, with no hint in his appearance or behavior that would raise any suspicion of a psychiatric disorder, court documents say.

In speaking with Rogers during one part of the evaluation, Becker revealed a “very psychotic profile.” In another part of the evaluation Rogers concluded Becker “has been experiencing a mild to moderate declined in his intellectual efficiency, consistent with a psychotic illness.”

Both doctors agree that Becker suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Rogers concluded that Becker was not competent to stand trial and Taylor concluded Becker was.

According to court documents, Becker was able to describe in the psychological evaluations the events that led the shooting of Thomas in a “precise, chronologic, detailed, coherent manner.”

Becker's lawyers entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. A new trial date has not been set.

Becker is being held in the Cerro Gordo County Jail in Mason City.

Parkersburg Becker 10-5-09 Competency Ruling

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