The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 11, 2012

Psych exams ordered for SPTC patient accused of attempted murder

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

ST PETER — Mental examinations have been ordered for a man accused of attempting to murder his mother while he was on a day pass from the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter in May.

District Court Judge Allison Krehbiel issued an order earlier this month saying Burton James Ewing Jr., 48, should be evaluated by two examiners, Dr. James Gilbertson of New Brighton and Dr. Kelly Wilson of Minneapolis. Krehbiel selected the two psychology experts from a list of four doctors provided by Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer and Ewing’s attorney, Tracy Bains.

The order said the reports should be submitted to the court by Oct. 1 and any examinations should be conducted at the Nicollet County Jail, where Ewing is an inmate. If for some reason an examination has to take place at another location, Krehbiel also said a Nicollet County deputy would be required to escort Ewing to that location and remain with him at all times — even during the examination.

The order is the first public action that has taken place for the case since Ewing appeared in court May 29 for felony attempted murder and assault charges. He was arrested at Seven Mile Creek County Park, between St. Peter and Mankato, on May 8.

Ewing is accused of beating his mother, Marlys Olson of Coon Rapids, on the head with a bike seat, attempting to force barbecue tongs through her eyes and stabbing her more than 20 times.

Ewing had been sent to the Security Hospital in 1998 after he beat his sister to death and was found not guilty of murder by reason of mental illness. He was going through the process of being released from the hospital and had a day pass the day he allegedly beat and stabbed his mother.

If Ewing would have been searched when he left the treatment center, staff would have found several days worth of clothing, a rain suit, almost all of his cash from a recently closed bank account, his birth certificate and other legal documents in his backpack, according to court records.

Bains filed a notice in May saying she is planning to use mental illness as a defense for the charges. Bains said Ewing seemed to be delusional during her conversations with him after his arrest.

Krehbiel’s order said Ewing’s medical or mental health records should be released to the doctors, along with any evidence that has been turned over to Fischer. Krehbiel wants the doctors to submit opinions about whether Ewing knew what he was doing was wrong at the time the alleged attack occurred. She also wants the doctors to provide a factual basis for each of their opinions.

Any statements Ewing makes to the doctors will not be admissible during trial, but they can be used to determine if he had a mental illness, Krehbiel’s order said. If Ewing refuses to cooperate during the examinations, Krehbiel also wants the doctors to provide opinions about whether that is a result of mental illness.