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Judge orders psychiatric evaluation in Morton manslaughter case


Fri, Sep 5th, 2003
Posted in Features

On Thursday, September 4, Judge Robert Benson ordered Trevor Lee Morton to undergo psychiatric evaluation at the St. Peter Security Hospital to see “if he is able to assist in his own defense.”

Morton, 30, of rural Spring Valley, was charged in Fillmore County District Court on Thursday with second degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Timothy Loeding, 33, of Rochester. The shooting took place on Friday evening, August 29, outside Morton’s home in Spring Valley Township.

In addition to the manslaughter charge, Morton also faces two felony counts of Discharge of a Firearm and Felon in Possession of Firearm. Morton has three prior burglary convictions dating to the early 90s.

According to the criminal complaint, Loeding arrived at the Morton residence at 6:00 p.m on Friday accompanied by his girlfriend. As Loeding was exiting his vehicle and standing next to the truck he suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Morton reportedly told investigators that Loeding’s death was an accident. The defendant said he was removing firearms from an upstairs closet when one of the guns discharged.

In the complaint, investigators noted that it was unlikely that “a falling gun would go off” and that the angle of the shot was not possible by the defendant’s descriptions. The investigators observed that the incident was consistent with the defendant drawing a gun and pointing it at Loeding and pulling the trigger, not knowing that the gun was still loaded.

Telling the defendant that “I am concerned about you,” Benson ordered a Rule 20 psychiatric evaluation. Benson noted during Thursday’s hearing that a release report dated that morning stated that Morton suffered from Acute Stress Disorder. Morton had reportedly been held at the psychiatric ward at St. Marys hospital under a suicide watch.

Fillmore County Attorney Pat Oman asked that bail be set at $150,000 because Morton is a flight risk due to the fact that he has prior convictions and that he may face federal charges for a felon possessing firearms.

This drew a response from Morton, who noted that the convictions Oman referred to happened over ten years ago.

“I want to get out so I can talk to his (Loeding) family,” Morton responded. “I am not leaving. I have a family, a home and a job. This was an accident.”

Benson appointed a public defender to represent Morton and continued Thursday’s Rule 5 hearing pending the evaluation from St. Peter. He set unconditional bail at $200,000, requiring that Morton complete the psychiatric evaluation as a condition of release. He also ordered Morton to have no contact with members of the victim’s family and to comply with any medical orders.

When Morton said that the “medicine made him stupid”, Benson said he would allow discussion on the matter in the future.

“You have the right to come back and talk to me about this,” Benson said.

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