Man, 91, found incompetent in wife’s Anchorage murder
The elderly man charged with fatally shooting his wife earlier this year has been deemed incompetent to stand trial, likely barring him from facing further charges in her death.
Duane Marvin, 91, was found not competent at the Wednesday conclusion of a hearing which began in late June, according to Anchorage District Attorney Clint Campion. Marvin had been arrested in May for first-degree murder in the shooting of 92-year-old Charlotte Marvin at their East 28th Avenue home.
“Superior Court Judge Michael Corey found that he was not competent, that he could not be restored to competency, and under state statute, he dismissed the charges,” Campion said.
The dismissal of the murder charges was “without prejudice,” Campion said, theoretically opening the way to Marvin being charged again in the shooting, but the outcome of an evaluation at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute for neural cognitive disorder, or dementia, made that improbable.
“The judge was confronted with pretty clear evidence that Mr. Marvin was not going to be competent to stand trial and he wasn’t going to get better in the near future at all,” Campion said.
Campion noted there really isn’t treatment available for Marvin’s condition.
“If there was any change in his circumstances, we could look at him again, but that seems very unlikely given his age and the circumstance that was described,” Campion said. “He was sent back to API and he went there in the middle part of August, and there was nothing different noticed or changed.”
Campion said he’s never seen a case like this during his time in this position.
“What I’d like to say to the community is that the one thing people should be aware of is when the court finds someone is not incompetent, under federal law, they can no longer possess a firearm,” he said. “That’s just something to be aware of – that there is some consequence, even though Mr. Marvin is unlikely to stand trial ever and is probably not going to face any accountability for the conduct. He’s not lawfully allowed to possess a firearm anymore.”
Marvin’s granddaughter had told a judge in jail court back in May after the incident all of his firearms had been removed from the home before he was released into her custody at that time.
Pam Kelley, education director for the Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska, said cognitive illnesses like dementia change over time and impact people differently. Kelley said there are resources available across Alaska for anyone seeking help.
“Memory screening can be done in any of our offices,” she said. “It’s something we do on a nondiagnostic basis, but rather to give to an individual an indication as to whether or not their memory is such that they should have a conversation with a health provider about the condition of their memory and any other cognitive functions that may be at risk.”
Kelley also said while progressive conditions like dementia don’t go away, there are ways people who may be affected or know someone who may have the illness can plan ahead. She stresses getting educated on the health conditions, then having an open conversation.
“We need to be able to evaluate the home environment, medical needs, legal and financial needs,” she said. “We need to be able to anticipate what care and support needs to be identified and put into place, so folks can live as independently as possible, for as long as is safely possible.”
Campion said Judge Corey gave the state a month to figure out whether a civil commitment would be filed.
“That’s a different proceeding than a criminal proceeding and that has to do with his disability and whether or not he poses a harm to the community,” Campion said. “Under the civil commitment statute, it’d very likely be under Alaska Psychiatric Institute – again there are limited beds there and it’s not going to be my decision ultimately whether that gets filed. That’s going to be up to the Attorney General’s office.”
He said this likely will be the end of Marvin’s case, saying from the Anchorage Police Department’s investigation into the judge’s decision, the process followed the criminal justice system.
“I think Judge Corey recognized this was a tragedy and it is for the whole community and the family,” he said. “Nobody wanted this for Mrs. Marvin and certainly nobody wanted Mr. Marvin to be known to the community this way.”
Marvin had previously been released to his family during the case.
KTVA reporter Steffi Lee contributed to this story.