EVERETT — Alan Edward Dean, who is accused of killing 15-year-old Melissa Lee in 1993, is set to undergo a mental health evaluation at Western State Hospital after he failed to cooperate in back-to-back court hearings this week.
On Monday, Dean refused to identify himself during his arraignment. He has been charged with first-degree murder, and was expected to enter a plea. He appeared in court through a television screen because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge Paul Thompson scheduled Dean to return to court Tuesday morning.
Dean, 62, still would not confirm his name and talked throughout the hearing. His voice was louder than it seemed on video, though his mouth was covered with a blue medical mask. He used his hands as he spoke. He claimed he is not a citizen of the United States “as it pertains to a federal employee or resident.”
“I wanted to see him in person, I wanted to see how he interacted with other individuals in the courtroom,” Thompson said. “And I have to say, at this point I have concerns as to competency.”
After almost 10 minutes, Thompson called for a half-hour break so deputy prosecutor Laura Twitchell could prepare a competency order. She pointed out Dean seemed to understand what was happening, but that he was acting out in protest.
“Although what the defendant is saying is gibberish from our perspective, as you noted earlier, he is a constitutionalist or a member of sort of the sovereign nation type of mindset, which we have dealt with historically in the past, it’s not new to us,” she said. “So our position is even though we don’t necessarily agree with it, or agree with his sense of the jurisdictional laws of our country and this court, is not the same thing as him not having a capacity to understand it.”
Thompson understood the state’s position.
“I think the court must in every case make sure that the individual in front of it understands the proceedings as well as can assist their attorney in the defense,” Thompson said. “At this point, based on my interactions with this individual, I have reason to doubt that he can, frankly, do either, and I do think we need a professional opinion as to that issue before proceeding further.”
Public defender Jon Scott has been assigned to represent Dean, who has made clear he does not want the attorney to work for him.
On April 14, 1993, Lee’s mother returned home after a night out to find the house a mess and a strange chemical smell lingering in the living room. Milk, cigarette ashes and peanuts were spilled on the floor. There was no sign of Lee.
Hours later in the afternoon, two passersby spotted a young person’s body about 50 feet below the north end of the Edgewater Creek Bridge, on the western outskirts of Everett. Lee had been strangled.
At the time Dean lived in Bothell, a few miles away from Lee.
Dean was identified early on as a possible suspect, but there was not enough evidence for an arrest until earlier this year, when he discarded a cigarette outside his home on April 21.
An undercover officer picked it up from the street to have it tested at a state crime lab. The DNA profile came back as an apparent match to semen on Lee’s underwear, according to charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court. Dean was arrested July 28.
A review hearing to determine if he is competent enough to help with his defense has been scheduled for Sept. 2.
Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; email@example.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.