Trial delay for suspect in gruesome 2013 Lake Stevens murder

He escaped from the state psychiatric hospital nearly two years ago but was caught after a few days.

Anthony Garver (Lakewood Police Department via AP, File)

Anthony Garver (Lakewood Police Department via AP, File)

EVERETT — A murder suspect who escaped from Western State Hospital in 2016 now is not expected to stand trial until this summer.

Anthony Garver has been accused since 2013 with killing Phillipa Evans-Lopez. The 20-year-old mother was found tied to a bed in her Lake Stevens home. Her throat had been slashed and she’d been stabbed more than two dozen times.

Garver’s trial — delayed earlier by questions about his mental health and then complicated by his brief escape — was to have gotten underway Jan. 12.

Instead, it has been continued to August. Lawyers on both sides of the case agreed to the new schedule.

Garver, 30, is charged with first-degree murder. Detectives believe he met Evans-Lopez in Everett. His DNA reportedly was found on the electrical cords used to bind the victim. Her blood also was discovered on a knife seized from Garver at the time of his arrest, court papers said.

Garver made headlines around the state nearly two years ago after he and another patient slipped out of the state psychiatric hospital. He was caught a couple of days later in a wooded area near Spokane, where his mother lives.

In 2015, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter was forced to dismiss the murder charge after state doctors concluded Garver was too mentally ill to assist his own lawyer. Efforts to restore his competency had failed, so Garver was civilly committed to the state hospital.

The well-planned escape ultimately worked in the favor of prosecutors. It set in motion a federal probation violation case, which included review of Garver’s mental health.

A U.S. District Court judge relied on the findings of more-recent mental health evaluation and reports from a treatment team at Western to determine Garver was competent. Among other things, the federal judge in the probation case wrote that Garver “is malingering, at least in part to avoid prosecution,” court papers said.

The defendant has remained locked up at the county jail in Everett pending trial.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @snorthnews.

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