A 2nd District Court judge Tuesday agreed to the hiring of a private investigator to screen witnesses being called by a California man charged with breaking into his ex-wife's home last year and trying to kill her.

Terry M. Dexter, 43, Apple Valley, Calif., is scheduled to go to trial Wednesday on charges of aggravated burglary and aggravated assault in the Oct. 9 incident in Layton.Public defender Steve Vanderlinden told Judge Rodney S. Page that Dexter had just submitted a list of seven witnesses, some out of the area, that he may call at the trial.

Vanderlinden asked the court to authorize the hiring of an investigator to interview the witnesses. Page agreed, allowing a $500 budget for the investigator.

Vanderlinden also asked the judge for a formal ruling on Dexter's mental capacity. He has undergone two mental examinations, one through Davis County Mental Health and one at the state hospital in Provo.

Page ruled that Dexter is capable of assisting in his defense and cannot plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge said he also is prepared to hear arguments and rule on a motion whether Dexter can be charged with aggravated burglary.

Dexter was separated from his wife but not divorced when the incident occurred. The two have since divorced. Vanderlinden said he will raise the issue of whether Dexter legally had access to the home and the aggravated burglary charge should be dropped.

Dexter is charged with breaking into the home the night of Oct. 9, armed with a pistol, and telling his wife he intended to kill her. Two shots were fired, according to police, before the gun jammed.

The woman's son from a previous marriage, armed with a kitchen knife, jumped Dexter and wounded him. Dexter fled and was found a short time later by Layton police.

He was charged with aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony that carries a prison term of five years to life, and aggravated assault, a third-degree felony with a zero-to-five-year prison term. The charge carries a five-year firearm enhancement.

While awaiting trial in the Davis County Jail in December, Dexter was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, also a first-degree felony. Sheriff's detectives said Dexter tried to arrange to have his former wife killed, negotiating a contract with an undercover agent planted in the jail.

Trial on that charge is set for May 1.