SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Friday there will be a competency hearing for an 80-year-old Sioux Falls man charged in a cold case murder investigation.
Algene Vossen was charged last summer in the 1974 stabbing death of a Willmar, Minnesota woman after new DNA evidence linked him to the brutal crime. But now his attorney says his client is mentally unfit to go to trial.
80-year-old Algene Vossen was charged last summer in the 1974 stabbing death of Mable Herman.
Since then, Vossen has had many delays in his court proceedings due to his declining health.
In fact, he’s been allowed to stay with a relative in Iowa so he could receive proper medical care while he awaits his trial.
But tomorrow Vossen will have to be in court for his competency hearing.
“Generally when we are talking about competency, we are talking about mental illness in the form of schizophrenia or something of that nature, but in Mr. Vossen’s case what we are talking about is an organic condition whether it’s Alzheimer’s or dementia that simply prevents him from communicating competently with his attorney,” Vossen’s Attorney Kent Marshall said.
Kent Marshall says that’s crucial in any case.
“He has to be able to help his attorney prepare his defense, he has to be able to understand what it is that’s happening; it’s my position that he’s not competent to do that and that taking him to trial would be wrong, a miscarriage of justice,” Marshall said.
Vossen was arrested last summer at his home in Sioux Falls after the Willmar police Department formed a cold case unit and found new DNA evidence allegedly tying him to the murder.
Court papers say Herman was stabbed 38 times.
“Officers poured through literally hundreds and hundreds of pages of reports, photographs, and actually retrieved the physical evidence that we still had in storage, clothing and some other items from the crime scene and went through that and put a lot of time and work into it,” Willmar Chief of Police Jim Felt said.
Investigators are hoping Vossen’s case will go to trial.
“We’ve got some strong evidence we believe that really points to him being the perpetrator here, some overwhelming evidence I would say,” Felt said.
A number of psychologists, who examined Vossen, will testify tomorrow on behalf of both the state and the defense.
Vossen’s competency hearing is scheduled for 1 o’clock on Friday in Kandiyohi County Court.