Attorney says client needs evaluation

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— The attorney defending a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman told a district judge Friday that he questioned his client's competency to face trial.

Public defender Trevor McFee told District Judge Michael O'Hara that his client, a 30-year-old man from Clark, was not assisting him in his defense and should be evaluated by a doctor to evaluate his competency.

The man sent a letter to O'Hara on Dec. 8 outlining his continued concerns with McFee's representation.

O'Hara called the letter rambling and nonsensical.

O'Hara told the man, who sat holding a book and a large white manila envelope, that he put a copy of the letter in the court file and sent copies to McFee and Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James.

"I don't think it is a good idea that you are sending me letters, but I also cannot order you to not write me," O'Hara said.

Several months ago, the man asked to address O'Hara privately about his concerns with McFee's representation and implied that he wanted to acquire a new attorney. During that hearing, O'Hara told the man he saw no pressing reason to remove McFee.

McFee on Friday asked O'Hara to order the man to be evaluated for competency a second time before the February trial.

"Given the unique circumstances of this case, I feel like I have no other choice to make this request," McFee said.

St. James said he was concerned that another evaluation would conflict with having an out-of-state witness fly back to testify in the case.

O'Hara told McFee that he did not have significant concern that would compel him to order the man's evaluation but that he would address the situation Jan. 12, one month before the man's trial.

The man is being charged with unlawful sexual contact, a Class 4 felony; burglary, a Class 4 felony; and violating a protection order, criminal mischief and false imprisonment, misdemeanors.

According to court documents, the man is suspected of breaking into a downtown Steamboat Springs office building in February, removing his clothes and fondling a female employee. The woman had a protective order against the man at the time. The man later turned himself into the Routt County Jail, where he was arrested.

The man's trial is scheduled for Feb. 9 and 10.

--To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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