Mental evaluation granted for van hijackerA Detroit Lakes man charged in Becker County District Court on a felony count of fleeing a peace officer will undergo a court-ordered evaluation of his mental competence to proceed with trial.
By: Staff Report, Detroit Lakes Tribune
A Detroit Lakes man charged in Becker County District Court on a felony count of fleeing a peace officer will undergo a court-ordered evaluation of his mental competence to proceed with trial.
David William Buethner, 37, of 702 W. Lake Dr., No. 10, Detroit Lakes, was charged after leading area law enforcement officers on a 100-mile, high speed chase Oct. 13.
According to law enforcement officials Buethner, a mental health patient being held at a Fergus Falls facility, hijacked a state van while being transported to a different treatment facility in Anoka County and headed eastbound on I-94 near West Union, east of Alexandria.
The ensuing chase eventually led to Becker County, where Buethner was spotted heading west on Highway 34 in Detroit Lakes, then north on Highway 59. The chase continued north into Mahnomen County, and then Pennington County, before his vehicle was finally brought to a stop in Thief River Falls, where he was apprehended.
Buethner was committed to the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Community Behavioral Health Hospital in Fergus Falls following a standoff at the Pine to Palm Motel in Detroit Lakes on Sept. 24.
He is currently in state custody under a civil commitment order. His attorney, Steven Bietelspacher, filed a motion Monday in Becker County District Court asking for the suspension of the criminal proceedings against him and the appointment of an examiner to evaluate both Buethner’s competency to stand trial and whether he was suffering from mental illness or deficiency at the time the offense was committed.
According to the affidavit Bietelspacher filed in conjunction with the motion, he indicated that it was his belief that Buethner was not sufficiently mentally competent to be able to consult with defense counsel with a “reasonable degree of understanding.”
Further, Bietelspacher argued in the affidavit that his client had suffered “traumatic brain injury” as a result of being struck by lightning in July 2009. He also put forth the argument that because Buethner’s medication had been changed recently due to his commitment to the treatment facility, it raised the question of whether the defendant was suffering from “involuntary intoxication” at the time the offense occurred.
The judge granted Bietelspacher’s motion requesting an administrative review and Rule 20 examination.