Attorney: Boise mass stabbing suspect needs to be committed to state hospital

Defense attorneys representing the man accused of stabbing nine refugees in Boise say he needs to be committed to a state hospital for mental health treatment.

Efforts to complete a court-ordered mental health evaluation of Timmy Earl Kinner Jr., 30, have stalled, according to prosecutors and defense attorneys handling the case.

Fourth District Court Judge Nancy Baskin did not order Kinner to be committed to a hospital. Instead, she said both sides must agree on a psychiatrist who will help determine if Kinner needs mental health treatment before his court proceedings can move forward.

Kinner, a homeless man, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 3-year-old Ruya Kadir and eight counts of aggravated battery in the alleged stabbing/slashing of eight others, including five children. All of the victims of the June 30 incident were refugees, and many were attending Kadir’s birthday party at the Wylie Street Station Apartments in northwest Boise.

A new status hearing on Kinner’s mental competency evaluation is set for Oct. 23.

Baskin ordered a mental competency evaluation at Kinner’s last court appearance on Sept. 5. But prosecutors said in court on Friday that Kinner hasn’t cooperated with the psychologist who is attempting to complete the assessment.

However, Deputy Prosecutor Tessie Buttram said the psychologist has not found evidence that Kinner needs psychiatric treatment. She raised doubts about whether Kinner had any serious mental health issues, suggesting that his lack of cooperation might but due to malingering, or faking illness, rather than due to any actual illness or defect.

His defense attorneys disagreed.

Kinner alternates between “perfectly reasonable and then very bizarre” behavior, one of his defense attorneys told the judge.

“We, all four of us, have come to the conclusion that in his current state of mental health, we do not have the ability to currently represent him,” the public defender said. “He does not have the ability to assist us in his defense. He does not have the ability to understand what’s happening in this process.”

For that reason, he asked the judge to have Kinner committed to a state hospital for treatment.

“We have grave doubts about his fitness to proceed,” the attorney said.

The hearing was interrupted when Kinner let a guard know that he was feeling ill. He stood up and was quickly ushered out of the courtroom, surprising the judge and others. The judge allowed Kinner to take a short break to eat something so he could continue participating in another room; courthouse IT staff worked fast to set up equipment to make that happen.

If Kinner’s completed mental health evaluation shows that he’s unable to assist in his own defense, he will be sent to one of the state hospitals for treatment. The judge will then later decide if he has improved enough to continue.

Kinner’s lead attorney is David Smethers with the Ada County Public Defenders Office.

He was not at Friday’s hearing. But at a Sept. 5 hearing, Smethers raised questions about the defendant’s fitness. He asked Baskin to bar police and prosecutors access to Kinner if his attorneys aren’t present due to their concerns about unspecified mental issues.

In court documents, prosecutors said Kinner tried to contact and arrange a meeting with police on more than one occasion. His attorneys dispute that he was actually seeking to talk to police in at least one case.

Baskin granted the defense’s motion to bar access to Kinner by police and other officials, except for sheriff’s deputies at the jail, but only until the results of his competency evaluation has been considered by the court.

In a motion filed late last week, prosecutors asked Baskin to review a letter they received from Kinner on Sept. 24. They said they did not read the letter.

Baskin said the letter will remain in the court’s vault, and she will make the decision to review the letter after Kinner’s mental competency evaluation is complete.

Addressed to deputy prosecutor Tessie Buttram, the letter’s end was sliced open, as is all incoming mail to the office, prosecutors said in court documents. Deputy Prosecutor Dan Dinger advised a jail deputy who had reviewed the letter on its way out of the jail not to discuss the contents with anyone. The jail deputy had indicated the letter had to do with legal work sent to Kinner.

Prosecutor’s have not said whether they will seek the death penalty. They have until late October to file their intent (60 days from Kinner’s entry of plea on Aug. 28).

An eight-week jury trial is scheduled to start Jan. 3, 2019.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413

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