News Article Details

Man charged with murder to undergo mental health exam

Sioux City Journal - 3/31/2017

DAKOTA CITY | A judge has ordered that one of two men charged in a Dakota County murder case undergo a psychiatric examination to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial.

In an order filed Thursday in Dakota County District Court, District Judge Paul Vaughan said Andres Surber should be examined within 30 days at the Lincoln Correctional Center by a state mental health professional.

Surber's attorney, Todd Lancaster, had requested the exam in a motion filed Wednesday in which he said he "is aware of sufficient facts about defendant's mental condition to reasonably raise an issue about defendant's competency, and that this issue needs to be resolved prior to trial in this case."

No trial date has been set.

Surber, 26, and Bryan Galvan-Hernandez, 19, both of Wakefield, Nebraska, have each pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. Surber also is charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. They are charged with the Nov. 1 shooting death of Kraig Kubik, 41, of Emerson, Nebraska.

Earlier this month, Surber was removed from the courtroom after standing up and yelling profanities during Galvan-Hernandez' pretrial conference. When it came time for Surber's pretrial conference, Vaughan conducted it without him being present.

Vaughan said in Thursday's order that mental health professionals must determine whether Surber understands the nature of the proceedings against him, is able to comprehend his own condition and has the capacity to make a rational defense.

Surber and Galvan-Hernandez are both scheduled to appear in court April 26 when Vaughan will consider a prosecution motion to consolidate their trials and also hear arguments on a defense motion to suppress evidence that Lancaster said was gathered by authorities conducting illegal searches of Surber's home and car.

Lancaster, of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy in Lincoln, has asked that search warrants be unsealed, a motion Vaughan granted Wednesday.

Galvan-Hernandez is scheduled to stand trial May 9, but prosecutors have asked that the date be moved to allow more time to prepare. Vaughan indicated during the pretrial conference that he would reschedule the trial for a later date.

Surber and Galvan-Hernandez are accused of shooting Kubik with a 9-mm firearm and dismembering his body. Investigators on Nov. 2 found a severed arm and leg in the trunk of a car at an abandoned farmhouse in rural Dixon County, Nebraska. The rest of Kubik's remains were found three days later in a creek about four miles away. Autopsy results showed a gunshot wound to Kubik's head.

 
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