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Murder suspect will head to state hospital

Erik John Meiser, the suspect in a Sept. 17 LO murder, is found unfit for trial


The suspect in a brutal murder in Lake Oswego will go to the state hospital for mental health treatment.

Clackamas County Circuit Judge Eve Miller found Tuesday that Erik John Meiser, 38, is unable to assist in his own defense by: SUBMITTED - Erik Meiserbecause of psychological issues, committing him to the Oregon State Hospital for up to three years.

Prosecutor Chris Owen requested regular status hearings to check on whether and how Meiser responds to treatment, which could include medication.

“The clock is ticking on three years starting today,” Owen said.

Until now, Meiser has been held in Clackamas County Jail on six counts of aggravated murder, two counts of first-degree robbery and one count each of first- and second-degree burglary. He is accused of killing Fritz Hayes, 57, a recently retired high-tech engineer and longtime Lake Oswego resident, on Sept. 17. He is also under investigation in a Washington state slaying that occurred in July.

Meiser was present in the courtroom but did not speak at this week’s three-hour hearing, held to assess his fitness to work with attorneys eventually defending him in a trial. Five sheriff’s deputies were present in the courtroom during the hearing.

Both sides had psychologists evaluate Meiser’s mental condition. Although they had different opinions when it came to diagnoses, they overall reached the same conclusion: that Meiser is delusional and isn’t competent to stand trial.

Psychologist Richard Hulteng testified that Meiser exhibited delusional thinking.

“He feels he’s being threatened and persecuted,” Hulteng said.

Meiser “uses the term ‘skullduggery’ quite a bit” and believes people speak to him subversively, Hulteng said, noting similar issues are apparent in years worth of corrections records, police reports, counseling records and audio and video recordings.

Meiser has suggested domestic terrorists are responsible for dark circles under his eyes; he made a similar complaint but attributed the problem to someone poisoning him years ago, according to Hulteng’s testimony. The psychologist also said Meiser worries “’they,’ whoever ‘they’ are,” are turning his daughter into a cannibal and worries his son will be persecuted.

It doesn’t appear he ever received medication or ongoing therapy while incarcerated, Hulteng said.

Authorities have described Meiser’s criminal history as extensive, dating back several decades.

Hulteng said Meiser was in California’s youth corrections system until he was 21 years old. He served time in Minnesota and in Colorado. While he was once a white supremacist, Meiser has reportedly renounced any neo-Nazi beliefs and modified related tattoos. He is married and has two children, a son and a daughter.

He has used a variety of drugs, including daily heroin use for a year, but he mostly used marijuana and occasionally drank some wine or a beer in recent years, Hulteng said.

Although Meiser’s criminal history includes arrests for domestic violence, he denies physically harming his wife, despite police reports to the contrary, Hulteng said.

“Sometimes he said he didn’t remember,” Hulteng said. “Sometimes he said he didn’t do it. ... He tended to minimize it.”

Hulteng said Meiser seemed resistant to the idea of a guilty-except-for-insanity defense.

“He wants to prove his delusions are true, which I think is pretty characteristic of people with delusional problems,” Hulteng said.

Both psychologists felt Meiser’s records indicated signs of mental illness in 2006, although symptoms could have occurred earlier.

Defense psychologist Henry Miller, who testified at a previous hearing, briefly took the stand again Tuesday.

He noted that Meiser’s mother was murdered when he was a toddler and said he had some hypotheses about “parent bonding” issues that may have developed.

He said Meiser may be ambivalent about receiving mental health treatment or taking medication because he doesn’t believe he needs them.

Meiser said, “I may not be the pinnacle of psychological health, but I’m not sick,” Miller recounted Tuesday.

Asked what drives Meiser, Miller said, “What drives him is this overwhelming belief that this ‘skullduggery’ is being done to him on a daily basis.”



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