Lawyer motions for competency evaluation of homicide defendant

Published 7:22 am Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The public defender for 37-year-old Chad Jamie Gulbertson on Monday made a motion in Freeborn County District Court for a competency evaluation of his client, which will determine whether he will be competent to stand trial.

The evaluation will be conducted at Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, which is a maximum security psychiatric hospital.

Gulbertson, of Albert Lea, is charged with second and third-degree murder of former girlfriend Jody Lee Morrow, 38, who was found dead by authorities on June 21 inside her trailer at 730 Larimore Circle in Albert Lea.

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Before officers found Morrow, Gulbertson reportedly came into the Law Enforcement Center with a family member and told an officer he thought he killed his former girlfriend, according to reports.

A preliminary report from the Freeborn County medical examiner determined that Morrow’s death was caused by multiple blunt force injuries to her head with a hammer, according to the criminal complaint filed in court.

Though Gulbertson has never been charged with something as serious as murder, Freeborn County Court records reveal he had a troubled past with a variety of criminal charges both inside and outside of the county.

More recently, according to court documents, he was meeting with a psychiatrist and had a mental health plan in place at Cedar House in Albert Lea.

He was ordered to have no alcohol or mood-altering chemicals most recently after a domestic disagreement with Morrow last October and had formerly been treated at Fountain Lake Treatment Center.

Morrow had applied for an emergency order for protection against Gulbertson in both September of 2008 and in May of 2009. She was granted an official order for protection June 1, according to court records.

The results of the competency evaluation will come before the court during a competency hearing, the date of which has not been announced.

Gulbertson’s charge of second-degree murder while under a restraining order for protection carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. The third-degree murder charge, of perpetrating an eminently dangerous act and evincing a depraved mind, carries a maximum penalty of 25 years.

His unconditional bail remains at $1 million. No conditional bail has been set.