FARMINGTON — Defense attorneys have filed notice that they will seek an insanity defense for a man accused of killing his mother and stuffing her body in a freezer if he is found competent to stand trial.
Jeremy Jacob Hauck, 23, is charged with murder, a first-degree felony, for allegedly shooting his mother, Laura Hauck, on Aug. 5, 2006, in their Bountiful condominium. Prosecutors contend the man then stuffed her body into a freezer and left the state. Hauck, then 18, was arrested shortly afterward in Montana.
At a competency review hearing Monday, defense attorney Todd Utzinger said he plans to seek an insanity defense and that his client is capable of undergoing competency evaluations by two psychologists.
Hauck is being housed at the Utah State Hospital, where he is being medicated.
"He has made a lot of progress," Utzinger said. "He is able to participate in the evaluations."
But Utzinger said his client is still considered incompetent and the improvements haven't changed that status. Utzinger said the evaluations will focus on Hauck's mental status at the time of the crime.
"This case has never been a 'whodunit,'" he said. "It's been a 'why?' and 'what were the circumstances?'"
Prosecutor Steve Major said that regardless of whether it is determined that Hauck was insane at the time of the incident, prosecutors will have the opportunity to challenge the evidence and present their own case.
"If the state hospital finds he was insane at the time, it's still a question for the judge," Major said.
Utzinger asked 2nd District Judge John Morris to issue an order that will keep Hauck at the hospital, so he can continue to undergo treatment.
"They've done well in working with him in there, so rather than have them take him to another facility, we want to keep him where he will progress," he said after the hearing.
Previous reports indicate that Hauck suffers from schizophrenia and exhibited some traits associated with autism.
The fact that Hauck has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial does not equate to an insanity defense, as it must be found that the person was insane at the time of the crime.
To be deemed competent, a person must be able to understand the charges against him, understand how the court works and be able to help his attorneys in his defense.
Another hearing in the case has been set for March 26.