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Thursday, April 13, 2000

Big Island slaying
suspect found unfit for trial

The man, accused of killing
a park ranger, will undergo
further treatment

By Debra Barayuga


Federal murder charges against a man accused in the Dec. 12 slaying of a Big Island park ranger have been suspended indefinitely because he has been found unfit to go to trial.

But prosecutors say the delay does not affect the government's case against him.

U.S. Magistrate Francis Yamashita yesterday signed an order committing Eugene Frederick Boyce III, 30, to a federal facility for further treatment and counseling.

In the next 120 days, the director of the facility will prepare a report on the probability of Boyce's condition improving to a point where he can proceed with trial.

Government mental health experts will also examine Boyce to determine his mental state at the time of the slaying.

"It's our full expectation (that) with treatment, Mr. Boyce can be brought to a point where he can face serious charges," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson.

While delays are never a good thing because memories can fade, the government believes it has a strong case and a delay shouldn't affect its case, Sorenson said.

Yamashita's order was based on the court's review of a report prepared by Dr. Scott Duncan and by agreement by both parties that Boyce suffers from a mental disease and is unable to understand the proceedings against him or assist his attorney in his defense.

Boyce's attorney, federal public defender Peter Wolff, declined to comment on the results of the report.

Boyce could be sent to a federal facility in Springfield, Mo. which specializes in treating the type of mental illness and violent tendencies Boyce apparently suffers from, Sorenson said.

Park Ranger Steve Makuakane-Jarrell was shot to death at the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park while investigating complaints about Boyce's three dogs.

Boyce faces a potential death penalty if convicted. Government prosecutors have not yet asked U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to review the case as a possible death penalty case and will not do so until he is arraigned on the charges.

Boyce cannot be arraigned until he is found competent.

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