DAKOTA CITY -- Days after prosecutors dropped a request to allow doctors to force Andres Surber to take his medications, his attorney has filed a motion to have him examined to determine if he's mentally competent to stand trial for the death and dismemberment of another man.
It's the latest filing in a case that has been dominated by Surber's mental health issues and could cause a scheduling crunch after a judge on Tuesday set his trial for next month.
Todd Lancaster said an examination is needed to determine whether Surber understands the charges against him and the consequences if he's found guilty and whether he can assist in his defense and testify, if necessary.
In the motion, filed Tuesday, Lancaster said that he "... is aware of sufficient facts about defendant's mental condition to reasonably raise an issue about defendant's competency ..." and that the issued needed to be resolved before the trial.
District Judge Paul Vaughan scheduled a hearing for April 16 in Dakota County District Court. Vaughan also set Surber's trial date for May 6.
Surber, 28, of Wakefield, Nebraska, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a felony and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He is accused of shooting Kraig Kubik with a 9mm firearm on Nov. 1, 2016, and dismembering the body.
Lancaster, of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy in Lincoln, also asked that Drs. Paul Organ and Cynthia Miller, who both work at the Lincoln Regional Center, where Surber has been undergoing treatment, be subpoenaed to testify at the April 16 hearing.
State prosecutors on March 28 filed a motion seeking permission for Regional Center doctors to administer Surber's anti-psychotic medications involuntarily. They withdrew the request on Thursday, saying only that it was filed upon Organ's recommendation.
Surber has a history of refusing to take his medications. In March 2018, Vaughan granted a state request to allow doctors to force Surber to take them.
Lancaster's request is the second time he's asked that Surber be examined to determine if he's competent to stand trial. Lancaster first sought an examination in March 2017. The following month, Vaughan ruled Surber was not competent to stand trial and ordered him to undergo treatment at the Regional Center. A state psychiatrist had testified he believed Surber has a form of bipolar disorder that led him to make statements that he is God, has raised Jesus and insist that Kubik isn't dead.
Lancaster appealed Vaughan's ruling in March 2018, but later dropped the appeal. In October, Vaughan upheld a psychiatrist's findings that Surber's mental competency had been restored and declared him mentally fit to stand trial, putting the case back on track for trial.
Vaughan has yet to rule on a defense motion to suppress evidence authorities gathered from Surber's home and car.
Prosecutors believe Surber shot Kubik at Kubik's rural Emerson, Nebraska, home. Kubik's right arm and right leg were found inside the trunk of a car at an abandoned farm 24 miles away on Nov. 2, 2016. The rest of Kubik's remains were found three days later in a culvert about four miles from the farmhouse.
Autopsy results showed that Kubik, 42, died of a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.
Brayan Galvan-Hernandez, 21, of Wakefield, was sentenced in December 2017 to 50-60 years in prison after pleading no contest to attempted second-degree murder and guilty to accessory to a felony in connection with Kubik's death.