Shared Illness in Murder Cases

Three impending murder trials in Kitsap County involve defendants that have been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The mental illness can sometimes allow for the defendants to use the insanity defense: that they were legally insane at the time of the crime.

The man suspected of the shooting death of South Kitsap convenience store owner Al Kono in June 2005 has already pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. The trial of Wayne Hower, 44, is set to begin April 12, reported prosecuting attorney Kelly Montgommery of the case.

Park Deitz, a nationally-known expert witness — especially in insanity cases — was hired by the prosecution, and concluded recently that Hower was in control of his actions, despite his illness, because he “willingly” ceased taking his medications.

Larry William Clark, 33, too, is said to have gone off medications designed to treat his schizophrenia. Clark is charged with the Poulsbo-area stabbing death of social worker Marty Smith in November.

Right now, Clark is undergoing a 90-day “competency restoration” at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom that could make him mentally able to understand the charges against him.

Meanwhile, Western State Hospital doctors declared in October that Joseph D. Guendulain, 73, also diagnosed as schizophrenic, is able to stand trial in the murder of Christine Rose at her McCormick Woods home in April 1996.

Guendulain had been at Western State for almost 10 years when doctors declared him fit to stand trial.

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