Becker trial delayed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Becker trial delayed

by John Wilmer

MASON CITY (KWWL) -- The trial has been postponed for Mark Becker, the man accused of killing Aplington-Parkersburg teacher and Coach Ed Thomas.       

In a hearing today in Mason City, a judge heard from a psychologist and psychiatrist regarding Becker's mental competency. It was the first time Becker appeared in front of news cameras since the shooting. Becker shuffled into the courtroom with his feet and hands shackled, he did not look at the cameras or the people who had gathered for the hearing.

The defense called psychologist Dr. Dan Rogers to the stand. Rogers had interviewed Becker twice.  During the first interview Becker was heavily sedated.

"He doesn't trust his attorney he doesn't anybody's explanation and he doesn't always perceive what other people are perceiving," said Dr. Rogers.

Rogers believes Becker suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is unfit to stand trial. 

"Based on my understanding of the criteria and my understanding of his functioning I don't believe that he is," said Rogers.

The prosecution presented their own expert, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Taylor. Taylor agrees that Becker suffers paranoid schizophrenia, but Taylor believes Becker fully understands the charges and the crime he now faces.

"If Mr. Becker psychotic symptoms were caused by the meth that he had been abusing it may be there's a slight chance we can hope that down the road he would not need as much medication," said Taylor.

While the doctors debated Becker's competency, they avoided telling the judge and those in the courtroom what Becker's motivation was the morning of June 24.

The trial had been scheduled for Sept. 15. First a judge must make a decision in the competency hearing.  

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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