Phillip Simmons

FARMINGTON — A nearly five-year-old murder case moved closer to trial after the man charged with killing a Bountiful woman was deemed competent to stand trial.

Phillip Joseph Simmons, 40, has been charged with murder, a first-degree felony, in connection with the Jan. 20, 2008, stabbing death of Suzanne Fry, 57. Police said Fry had befriended Simmons and provided a place for him to stay because he was out of work and homeless.

Neighbors heard a commotion in Fry's apartment at 2135 S. Main and called police. Fry was found dead with 51 stab wounds in her body, and police picked up Simmons a few blocks away.

Police said the two had been arguing over a meal. Simmons told police that during the fight, he heard voices in his head, the word "murder" came into his mind and he blacked out. When he awoke later, Fry was on the floor in a pool of blood, he said.

But the case stalled amid questions about Simmons' competency. The man was suspected of having mental health issues early on, and he was ordered by a judge to be taken to the Utah State Hospital. He was eventually found competent in 2009 but was deemed incompetent again in March 2012.

Simmons underwent treatment to restore him to competency, and defense attorney Mark Arrington said Wednesday that his client was deemed competent in a hearing Tuesday in 2nd District Court.

"His latest psychological evaluation found him legally competent, although still suffering from some mental health issues," Arrington said.

He said they are working with a doctor to determine Simmons' mental state and competency at the time of the crime.

"Not his current competency, but his competency shortly after he was arrested," Arrington said.

Meantime, the case will move forward with a pre-trial hearing Jan. 29. 

Emiley Morgan, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam