THOMPSON FALLS – The attorney for a Missoula man accused of murder during a brutal home invasion in Dixon in December will argue his client suffers from a mental disease or defect, and lacked specific intent, when the case goes to trial this summer.
Public defender Steve Eschenbacher on Tuesday told District Court Judge Kim Christopher a court-ordered psychological evaluation of Nathan Lee William Calvert laid the groundwork for such a defense.
That evaluation was conducted by staff at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. It was revealed during Tuesday’s omnibus hearing that Calvert had attempted suicide once since being held there.
Eschenbacher said a second psychological evaluation commissioned by the defense was in the process of being finalized, but would support the results of the court-ordered evaluation.
Sanders County Attorney Bob Zimmerman reserved the right for the state to seek another opinion, and told Christopher he would decide this week whether to do so.
Calvert is accused of murdering 61-year-old Doug Morigeau of Dixon less than three weeks before Christmas.
Calvert allegedly told authorities he was high on synthetic marijuana, commonly called “spice,” when he allegedly barreled into Morigeau’s home shortly after dinnertime on Dec. 6, stabbed him 54 times and beat the Two Eagle River School employee with a rifle.
He also is accused of slashing the throat of Morigeau’s wife, Cheryl.
Cheryl Morigeau, who escaped out a back door and summoned help from a nearby relative’s house, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with life-threatening injuries.
She survived the attack.
When they arrived, law enforcement said they found Calvert outside the Morigeau residence with a bloody hunting knife and bloody rifle. He allegedly told authorities he used the rifle to beat Morigeau after the knife attack “because he would not die.”
Calvert also allegedly told them he had been smoking spice “almost constantly” for 1 1/2 to 2 weeks prior to the attack, using pages from a Bible to roll the synthetic marijuana. The synthetic drug has been linked nationwide to several cases of extreme and violent behavior by some of its users.
The defendant, wearing a white T-shirt and gray sweatpants, sat nervously bouncing his legs during much of Tuesday’s hearing.
The omnibus hearing had started back on Feb. 5 and was continued twice while awaiting the results of the psychological evaluation.
Eschenbacher and Zimmerman told the judge they expected a trial would last four to five days, and Eschenbacher also requested a large jury pool due to publicity surrounding the case.
“One hundred?” Christopher asked.
Eschenbacher nodded yes, and Zimmerman said, “That should be more than enough.”
Zimmerman had already announced the state would not seek the death penalty.
Christopher set a trial date of July 15.