SIOUX CITY -- A Sioux City man charged with murder is just as likely to be unwilling to cooperate in his defense rather than being mentally impaired, a judge has ruled.
In finding Daniel Levering mentally competent to stand trial for the July 23, 2017, stabbing death of Vincent Walker, District Judge Patrick Tott said he believes Levering understands court proceedings and how he can help his attorneys, who had argued he was unable to help them defend him because of a mental disorder.
"While the court does not doubt defense counsel's frustration, the court does not believe that the defendant has established by a preponderance of the evidence that this is due to some functional impairment, and that it is just as likely caused by a lack of unwillingness to cooperate and fully participate in his defense," Tott said in a nine-page ruling filed Tuesday in Woodbury County District Court.
Tott's ruling reinstates the proceedings in the case, which had been suspended for 12 months while Levering underwent mental health evaluations. Tott has yet to set a new trial date in the case.
Levering, 31, of Sioux City, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
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During a May 24 hearing, a forensic psychologist who examined Levering for the defense confirmed Levering's previous diagnoses of schizophrenia, and said Levering also has some cognitive impairment that, in his opinion, left him incompetent to stand trial.
A forensic psychiatrist retained by the prosecution testified that Levering showed no signs of schizophrenia when he examined and observed him, and that previous diagnoses were likely influenced by Levering's drug use.
Levering is accused of stabbing Walker, 36, of Winnebago, Nebraska, who was washing his car at a house at 506 22nd St. in Sioux City when he was confronted by three men. Police believe Levering stabbed Walker once in the chest and three times in the back. While Walker was being stabbed, a second person who is not identified in court documents hit him in the head with a baseball bat. Walker died later at a Sioux City hospital.
Levering was arrested three days after the stabbing. Neither of the other two men has been arrested.