Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox

A judge has been asked to find a 21-year-old Lincoln man competent to stand trial for killing his mother with an ax in 2008.

But Matthew Fox's attorney argued Tuesday that because Fox has been either unwilling or unable to give details of what happened that night he isn't yet able to assist in his defense.

"I find myself in a position of flying blind," said Jerry Soucie of the Public Advocacy Commission.

It is especially important, he said, in a case that likely will come down to a question of Fox's mental status at the time Sherry Fox died.

Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Jim Rocke argued that in determining Fox's competency it's irrelevant whether he remembers what happened.

How is it any different, he asked, than someone drinking too much, blacking out and not knowing what happened.

Rocke's position is that Fox should be found competent. Fox is charged with first-degree murder.

Fox was arrested Oct. 25, 2008, outside his mother's home at 2519 E St., where he lived in the unfinished basement.

Police found her dead on the basement floor with a cut in the middle of her forehead and a bloody ax nearby.

At Tuesday's hearing, two Lincoln Regional Center doctors who have worked with Fox were called to testify.

Dr. Klaus Hartmann said it was his opinion Fox is competent for trial.

Soucie asked how, if Fox can't recall the events that night, he can make decisions about his defense.

"I would not say he can't recall," Hartmann said. "We don't know."

It may be too painful or he may be choosing not to talk about it, he said.

Dr. Jennifer Cimpl-Bohn said Fox tends not to talk about details and has said he doesn't want to think about it.

The defense called Dr. Scott Bresler, a former regional center psychologist now at the University of Cincinnati. In his opinion, Fox is "marginally competent."

He said Fox had shown some symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy, a brain disorder that could have, brought on by alcohol, led him to act out with rage. It could explain why he doesn't remember, he said.

Bresler said he also entertained the possibility that Fox, of his own volition, argued with his mom, became enraged and killed her.

District Judge Robert Otte will rule on the matter.

Reach Lori Pilger at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

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