Lake Oswego

Judge weighs whether accused killer fit to stand trial

Judge weighs whether accused killer fit to stand trial »Play Video
Erik Meiser sits quietly during his competency hearing Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in a Clackamas County courtroom. He's accused of stabbing to death Fredrick "Fritz" Hayes of Lake Oswego last year. A judge is deciding whether Meiser is fit to stand trial.

OREGON CITY, Ore. – A judge is trying to decide if the man accused of ambushing and killing a Lake Oswego man is fit to stand trial.

Erik Meiser was arrested last year for stabbing Fredrick "Fritz" Hayes to death with a machete in his own kitchen after Hayes and his wife came back from a morning walk. The couple had never met Meiser before the encounter.

The judge will decide if Meiser is insane after hours of testimony from doctors who examined him.

The prosecution and defense agree Meiser is a troubled man. But they don't agree if those troubles are serious enough to stop the trial.

Meiser did not say or do anything during his competency hearing. Oregon law only gives the judge a basic outline of what to look for.

The law says Meiser must be able to understand the proceedings, assist and cooperate with his lawyers and participate in his own defense.

Christopher Lockey, chief psychiatrist at the Oregon State Hospital, examined Meiser at the state hospital. He thinks Meiser is competent but has a mental illness and sometimes delusions. For example, Meiser thinks people want to poison him or turn his child into a cannibal.

"I think he's looking at the information rationally and logically," Lockey said during testimony. "His fear of going to prison – he doesn't want to go to prison. He’d prefer one of the other possibilities. I think he makes a very rational decision in his mind."

The hospital gave Meiser medicine and said even with mental illnesses people still make rational decisions and can go on trial.

Testimony continues Wednesday.