Judge says evaluation casts doubt of competency of man charged with killing 73-year-old woman


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LAPORTE, Indiana — A northern Indiana judge says one of two mental health evaluations he ordered for a 47-year-old man charged with stabbing his 73-year-old girlfriend to death and storing her dead body inside a freezer casts doubt on his competency to stand trial.

"I think there is some doubt he could stand trial at this point," LaPorte Circuit Judge Thomas Alevizos said Friday.

Alevizos is still awaiting the second evaluation for Daniel Shoffner, The LaPorte County Herald-Argus reported (http://bit.ly/1CYS3iM ).

Shoffner is accused of murdering Birdie Elder on June 13 in the house they shared. Court documents state Shoffner told police he was demonstrating "knife moves" and accidentally stabbed her. Authorities said Elder died of multiple stab wounds, some to the heart.

Shoffner's attorney David Jones said he would like his client's March 16 trial date to be vacated until the second evaluation came back. Alevizos says if the second evaluation agrees with the first, Shoffner's case will be referred to the mental health department. If it doesn't, another hearing will be scheduled.

Elder's body had to thaw for almost a week before an autopsy could be performed. Shoffner had moved into Elder's home several months before she died, following the death of her husband.

Information from: The La Porte Herald-Argus, http://www.heraldargus.com

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