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Erik Meiser's attorneys could contest the finding

Doctors at the Oregon State Hospital have found that the suspect in a brutal murder in Lake Oswego last year is fit to stand trial.

Erik John Meiser, 38, appeared in Clackamas County Circuit Court Tuesday in a live video feed from Clackamas County Jail, although he questioned why he hadn’t been brought to Judge Eve Miller’s courtroom in person.Erik Meiser

He is accused of killing 57-year-old Fritz Hayes, a retired high-tech engineer, after attacking him with a knife and machete when Hayes and his wife returned to their home from a morning walk Sept. 17. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

In January, he was sent to the state hospital after a judge found he was unable to assist in his own defense because of mental illness. Two mental health professionals had diagnosed him with delusional disorder.

Last month, a psychiatrist told the court Meiser had agreed to take medication and was receiving treatment. Another psychiatrist evaluated his mental condition March 11 and found Meiser was competent to stand trial, although his attorneys could challenge that determination.

Robert Huggins, one of Meiser’s two attorneys, said Tuesday the defense team hadn’t yet decided whether they’ll contest the state hospital’s findings. He said he thought Meiser only wanted to be transported to court for discussions of more “substantive” is sues than scheduling, but would make sure Meiser physically attended future hearings.

“We’ll just have you come in the future,” Huggins said.

“I would prefer to be there, but if that’s the way things crumbled that’s fine,” Meiser said. He said he also wanted attorneys to address his right to a timely trial. “In the future, I would prefer to be in court.”

A hearing has been set for April 22 to discuss medical records requested by prosecutors. A trial date could also be set at that hearing. Another hearing is scheduled for April 29 for attorneys to debate whether Meiser is indeed fit to stand trial.

A former white supremacist, Meiser has a criminal history stretching back years across 10 states, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, which led the investigation of the Lake Oswego murder on Atwater Road, in an unincorporated pocket of Clackamas County.

He remains a person of interest in a Washington investigation of a stabbing murder that took place in July, according to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, although he has not been arrested or charged in connection with that case. He is also accused of slashing a man with a knife or razor on Sept. 8 in Ogden, Utah.

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