News

Judge suspends proceedings, Pedersen to be evaluated before standing trial

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


 


During a competency hearing in Washington County Court Thursday morning, Clarence Dean Pedersen ? whenever he was referred to as ?Mr. Pedersen? during the proceedings ? yelled out ?No, its Deano.?


In the hearing that lasted about 10 minutes, Judge Crystal Cronk ruled to suspend legal proceedings related to Pedersen?s charge of first-degree murder in the death of Ed Jones, 70. Cronk found probable cause that Pedersen was not fit to stand trial and ruled that Pedersen be held over for a psychological evaluation to determine if Pedersen is fit to stand trial. Pedersen did not take the witness stand during the hearing, but voiced several corrections to people.


Johnson County Public defense attorney Peter Persaud opened the hearing, stating that in his professional opinion he did not believe Pedersen could consult with defense attorneys in a manner that would assist in his defense and that Pedersen did not understand the proceedings. Persaud commented that Pedersen had been taken off anti-psychotic medication he had taken for many years. There were also reports of Pedersen being confused. Persaud also discussed a previous case in which a murder conviction against Pedersen was overturned by the Iowa Supreme Court after it was found he had not been competent to stand trial, citing that the case had information regarding Pedersen?s condition. Pederson was charged with the murder of Kent Nelson, his brother-in-law, on Dec. 30, 1978, after Nelson was found dead in Pederson?s parents? home in southwest Iowa. He died of a gunshot wound.


Washington County Attorney John Gish made the statement that during an initial appearance, Pedersen had introduced himself as ?Band Deano.? Gish said when magistrate Judge Larry Brock had pressed Pedersen on his name, he admitted to Clarence Pedersen being his real name.


?Yeah, after they forced me to,? Pedersen said in reply.


Cronk set a deadline of September for the evaluation and set a status hearing for 9 a.m. Sept. 28.


According to Iowa Code, criminal proceedings are suspended until the defendant undergoes psychiatric evaluation to determine whether the defendant is suffering a mental disorder which prevents the defendant from undersatnidng the charge, the proceedings or will be able to effectively assist in their own defense.


Gish said in a previous interview if he is ruled to be unfit to stand trial, the next steps would be determined by mental health professionals.


Persaud had requested the competency hearing after asking Pedersen?s arraignment be suspended until it is decided whether or not Pedersen is fit to stand trial.


Pedersen was arrested July 12 and charged with first-degree murder in Jones? death. At the time he was Jones? roommate. Washington Police responded to a 911 call at approximately 7:56 a.m., Wednesday, July 11, at an apartment complex located at 601 W. Adams St., later identified as Pedersen?s home. At the residence, Jones, 70, of Washington, was found deceased. Several pieces of evidence pointing to Pedersen being involved with Jones? death were recovered during the investigation, including a knife found at the scene. Pedersen also allegedly had a note in a lock box that read, ?kill Ed.?