Judge says doctors may forcibly medicate murder defendant

EVERETT — Doctors can force medications on a mentally ill man deemed unable to assist the attorney who is trying to defend him in a murder case.

Anthony Garver, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in the June 2013 stabbing death of Phillipa S. Evans-Lopez.

The woman, 20, was found tied up in her Lake Stevens home. She’d been stabbed two dozen times and her throat was cut. She left behind a 3-year-old son.

Garver has been locked up without bail since July, his case stalled over his inability to work with his lawyers and answer questions about his mental health.

At a hearing on Thursday, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Joseph Wilson found Garver incompetent and unable to assist in his defense. He authorized state psychiatrists to try to change that by treating Garver with anti-psychotic drugs — against the man’s will, if necessary.

Garver has disrupted past court hearings but he showed no reaction to the judge’s ruling.

He was strapped into a restraint chair and surrounded by corrections officers. His head also was covered in a gauze bag as a precaution against spitting.

Deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter had a psychiatrist from Western State Hospital testify about failed attempts in March and early May to conduct competency evaluations on Garver. The defendant refused to cooperate and talked about hurting people, the judge was told. Garver lives with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

His court-assigned attorney, Jon Scott, said Garver has made clear he doesn’t want anti-psychotic medications, but he also is unable to assist in challenging the murder charge.

“He doesn’t recognize my role here,” Scott said.

Garver in September filed a four-page, handwritten motion claiming his constitutional rights were being violated because he could not work with the public defender then handling his case. He now is represented by Scott.

Garver allegedly is linked to the killing through genetic evidence found on the electrical cords that were used to bind Evans-Lopez. Detectives also have tracked down surveillance videos from an Everett fast food restaurant and a store showing Garver accompanying the woman just before her death, according to court papers.

He was released from federal prison in February 2013 after serving time for threatening to blow up a government building in Spokane. He dropped from sight within a month, becoming a fugitive. He’d been squatting in homes in the Everett area prior to his arrest in the murder case.

Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com.

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