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Published April 16 2012

Lawyers for Fargo man accused of killing wife seek psych eval

FARGO – Lawyers for a Fargo man accused of stabbing his wife to death want him committed for a psychological evaluation to determine whether he can be held criminally responsible for his actions, court records show.

The motion, made last week by public defender Nicholas Thornton on behalf of 50-year-old Henry Leo Deniger, is sealed.

A closed hearing is set for Thursday before Judge Steven McCullough in Cass County District Court. If he authorizes the expense of the evaluation, the order to authorize the expense will be a public record.

Deniger faces up to life in prison without parole if convicted of the Class AA felony murder charge filed against him on March 8, two days after his wife, Kathye Deniger, was found stabbed to death in their south Fargo apartment.

In court documents, police claim Deniger confessed to the killing when he was arrested March 7 in St. Cloud, Minn.

Thornton and public defender Gordon Dexheimer are representing Deniger, who made his first court appearance in Fargo on April 10. Bail was set at $1 million cash or bond.

Thornton said Monday he couldn’t comment on the motion or anything the attorneys may have discussed with Deniger, citing attorney-client privilege.

As The Forum has previously reported, Deniger’s criminal history includes several cases in which his mental competency was brought into question.

Deniger is set for a preliminary hearing on May 10, at which time he may enter pleas to the murder charge and a Class C felony charge of tampering with evidence for allegedly washing a knife discovered at the crime scene.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528