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Published September 21 2012

Murder case suspended as Fargo man accused of killing wife sent to State Hospital

FARGO – A judge has ordered a Fargo man accused of murdering his wife to undergo mental health treatment at the North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown, suspending proceedings in the case for up to 90 days.

If the hospital’s evaluator determines that 50-year-old Henry Leo Deniger hasn’t regained fitness to proceed within the 90-day period, a hearing on Deniger’s fitness to proceed will be scheduled within 20 days, according to the order signed Thursday by Judge Steven McCullough in Cass County District Court.

Deniger faces up to life in prison without parole if found guilty of fatally stabbing his 52-year-old wife, Kathye Deniger, whose body was found in the couple’s south Fargo apartment on March 6.

Last month, Henry Deniger’s public defenders asked the judge to suspend the case and commit him to the State Hospital for treatment until he regains competency “or reaches the end of his maximum possible sentence for the underlying offenses.”

The motion followed two psychological evaluations of Deniger. In the second evaluation, the psychologist suggested that Deniger “currently lacks fitness to proceed in this matter, but may regain fitness in the foreseeable future,” the motion stated.

As The Forum has previously reported, Deniger’s criminal history includes several cases in which his mental competency came into play. In a 2001 carjacking case in Seattle, he was acquitted by reason of insanity and committed to a mental hospital. A harassment charge filed in 2008 in Seattle also was dismissed for reason of incompetency.