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Forum staff reports, Published July 25 2012

Mental evaluation ordered for Fargo man accused of killing wife

FARGO – A Fargo man accused of stabbing his wife to death in March has been ordered to undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he is fit to proceed with the case and competent to stand trial.

Attorneys for 50-year-old Henry Leo Deniger asked for the evaluation to determine whether he lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him and assist in his own defense, and whether he can effectively communicate with his lawyers.

Judge Steven McCullough granted the motion Tuesday in Cass County District Court.

Deniger’s next court appearance is a preliminary hearing on Aug. 2, and the results of the evaluation are expected before then.

In April, McCullough granted a defense request for an evaluation to determine whether Deniger could be held criminally responsible for his actions. The latest defense request says “additional information has been obtained that leads counsel to believe an issue has arisen concerning Deniger’s fitness and ability to proceed.”

In a letter to McCullough dated July 5, Deniger asked the judge to appoint new counsel for him because of a possible conflict of interest with three of the state’s possible witnesses, which he said had caused him to hold back from speaking with his attorneys.

Deniger is represented by public defenders Gordon Dexheimer and Nicholas Thornton.