Stabbing suspect still unfit for trial, psychologists say

LAKE STEVENS — State psychologists say a mentally ill man still is unable to assist his attorney to defend against a murder allegation.

It has been more than a year since Phillipa Evans-Lopez, 20, was found tied up in her Lake Stevens home. Prosecutors allege that Anthony Garver, 26, stabbed her two dozen times and slit her throat. Investigators have not released a motive for the killing. The pair may have just met the day before at an Everett McDonald’s, court papers said.

Garver was arrested July 2, 2013, at that same McDonald’s, about two weeks after Evans-Lopez was killed. He allegedly was connected to the slaying through genetic evidence found on the electrical cords used to bind the young woman.

Garver has denied killing Evans-Lopez. He reportedly told police his DNA was in her house because he helped her move some furniture.

The case against Garver is on hold as doctors treat him at Western State Hospital. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Garver was deemed incompetent to stand trial. His treatment had been delayed because Garver refused to cooperate with doctors.

A Snohomish County Superior Court judge in May authorized state doctors to treat Garver with anti-psychotic drugs, against his will if necessary. The case was further delayed when Garver had to wait about six weeks for a bed to open up at Western State Hospital after he was moved from the hospital to the Snohomish County Jail to attend his court hearing in May.

In a letter submitted to the court earlier this month, a state psychologist concluded that Garver continues to suffer from “symptoms of his diagnosed mental disorder.” He lacks the ability to understand the first-degree murder charge against him and is unable to consult with his lawyer, Jon Scott of Everett, the psychologist wrote.

A few months after his arrest, Garver demanded a new lawyer, saying he couldn’t work with his then-assigned public defender. He argued that his constitutional rights were being violated. He was given a new lawyer.

The doctor reported that Garver was “guarded and suspicious” and avoided eye contact during a brief interview on Aug. 8. As soon as the doctor explained the purpose of the conversation, Garver “digressed into a nearly incomprehensible narrative about his dietary needs.” He said a sandwich wasn’t enough food for him, court papers said.

The psychologist said Garver has shown some improvement since July and has been taking medication. He is nearly halfway through the 90-day hold approved by the court.

Another status hearing is scheduled for October.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley

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