Health concerns could delay Tope trial

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2002

A judge ruled Wednesday that Jason Patrick Tope, 26, who is accused of producing methamphetamine and escaping from the county jail, will have a medical examination to assess his capability of continuing his legal proceedings.

Judge James Broberg granted the motion by Defense Attorney Frank Schulte and will appoint an examiner.

Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure disallows a defendant to enter a plea or be tried if the defendant either lacks sufficient ability to consult with a reasonable degree of rational understanding with defense counsel; or is mentally ill or mentally deficient so as to be incapable of understanding the proceedings or participating in the defense.

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Schulte said in his affidavit, &uot;My client’s speech and conduct have caused me to have serious concerns as to his mental health.&uot; He pointed out that Tope abruptly changed the subject of discussions during the consultation and showed difficulty concentrating on the conversation.

Schulte also referred to Tope’s history of chemical dependency, saying that he may be suffering from drug-induced psychosis that prohibits him from differentiating between fantasy and reality.

Tope was caught when he was manufacturing meth with his brother Shawn in the garage of his residence at 205 Giles Place, Albert Lea, on Nov. 7 last year.

He made his escape from the jail on Feb. 8 by prying open the window and sliding down to the ground on a rope made of blankets and sheets. A month later, Tope was arrested in a St. Paul hideout.

His trial, scheduled to start on July 30, is likely to be postponed pending the result of the medical examination. A hearing would be held if either defense or prosecutor entered an objection to the examiner’s report.