A 3rd District judge has ruled that Eugene Woodland - charged with gunning down a Sandy contractor - cannot be forced to take medication while being held at the Utah State Hospital.
During a December hearing before Judge Leonard Russon, the judge ruled that Woodland - also known as Captain Nemo - was mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial in the shooting death of Bruce Larson, 40, that occurred on March 28. The judge also authorized the hospital to administer medication as part of a treatment program.Woodland protested the judge's decision and said, "I don't want to be medicated and put into those hospitals. . . . It's chemical lobotomy. That's what it is."
But Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Tom Vuyk said that with the help of the medication, Woodland's condition can improve and he could be considered competent to stand trial. Without the medication, however, he might not ever become well enough to leave the hospital and stand trial, he said.
But Judge Ann M. Stirba, who replaced Russon in January when he was appointed to the state Court of Appeals, vacated Russon's opinion. She said the criminal code addressing commitment of mentally incompetent persons does not mention forced medication.
Woodland has denied killing anyone and repeatedly has asked for a chance to stand trial to prove his innocence. Psychiatrists evaluated him last summer and found him sane. But Vuyk said Woodland's condition deteriorated and more recent psychological evaluations recommended that he be sent to the mental hospital.
Woodland will appear before the court again on June 17 and every six months thereafter until he is ruled competent to stand trial.
Known as Captain Nemo because he sometimes acted and dressed like the character from the Jules Verne novel, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," Woodland is charged with second-degree murder. He was arrested shortly after Larson was shot numerous times at a construction site at 4050 S. 900 East.
The shooting occurred in a building Woodland had once planned to turn into Captain Nemo's Dinner Theater Atlantis and Fitness Center. Larson's firm had gained ownership of it after Woodland ran into financial problems.
Witnesses said Woodland walked up to Larson and demanded to know what he was doing with the building. Larson was shot five times. Woodland is also charged with aggravated assault in connection with injuries sustained by Glen Fisk, 27, who was shot in the hand during the incident.