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Forum News Service, Published February 19 2014

Babbitt man to undergo second mental evaluation in strangling case

DULUTH - A Babbitt man accused of strangling his mother’s boyfriend to death has been found mentally ill by one psychologist, but must undergo a second evaluation, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Shawn Russel Doherty, 25, will enter pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness, his court-appointed attorney, Bruce Williams, told the Duluth News Tribune.

Doherty is accused of killing Paul John Bulen, 55, of Mahtomedi, on Jan. 13. Bulen, who was in a relationship with Doherty’s mother, was staying at the Dohertys’ Babbitt home temporarily.

Doherty underwent a competency evaluation after his initial court appearance on a second-degree murder charge Jan. 16. While the report is not public, Williams said the evaluation found that his client is suffering from mental illness and is not competent to participate in his own defense.

But Judge Gary Pagliaccetti granted a prosecution motion for a second evaluation. Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Michelle Anderson said she requested it because the initial psychologist had recently evaluated Doherty for a civil commitment case.

“We we wondered whether it was appropriate for him to do another evaluation,” Anderson said. “There’s not any particular reason why we’d have an issue with his evaluation.”