Trial set for alleged ranger killer
It is the fourth time the man with a mental condition has been found fit to proceed
Nearly five years after he allegedly murdered a Big Island National Park ranger, California drifter Eugene Frederick Boyce III is once again set for trial.
Federal public defender Peter Wolff told U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren yesterday that doctors at a federal medical center in Springfield, Mo. recently found Boyce "fully capable" at this time and that the defense would not object to the court finding him fully competent to proceed.
Kurren accepted the representations and set trial for Feb. 22, although attorneys on both sides say anything can happen until then.
Boyce, who suffers from an undisclosed mental condition, had been found fit to proceed at least three previous times, only to be returned to the medical facility for further mental evaluation and treatment.
Boyce is accused of shooting to death Park Ranger Steve Makuakane-Jarrell, 47, at the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park in Kona while the 15-year parks veteran investigated complaints about Boyce's three dogs.
Boyce has told federal authorities he shot Makuakane-Jarrell in self-defense during a struggle over the ranger's gun.
He was charged with first-degree murder of a federal law enforcement officer and faces a maximum of life imprisonment if convicted.
The Office of the U.S. Attorney General notified the U.S. Attorney's Office here in January 2003 that it decided not to seek the death penalty in this case because of Boyce's mental condition.
Boyce is expected to be brought back here sometime in January.