Teen accused of sexual assault not yet competent to stand trial - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Teen accused of sexual assault not yet competent to stand trial

Teen accused of sexual assault not yet competent to stand trial

Posted:

MONROE (WKOW) -- Michael Gifford has up to a year to prove he's legally competent to stand trial, a Green County Court ordered Tuesday.

The 17-year-old Clarno teen has been charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor for allegedly repeatedly raping a teenage girl over a period of about six months, from July 2012 to January, authorities say.

A judge ordered a mental evaluation, after both Gifford's attorney and family members claimed the boy has diminished mental capacity.

A Madison-based psychiatrist determined that at this point Gifford is not yet competent to stand trial, but could be with training and counseling.  

"We didn't get a chance to discuss, but I think it'd be fair to say that he's rather confused," assistant state public defender Guy Taylor said, adding he was unable to discuss whether Gifford has been diagnosed with a mental disorder.  

Being legally competent would require Gifford to understand the legal process and to be able to communicate with his lawyer about what the case is about and strategies, according to assistant Green County district attorney Jeffrey Kohl.  

"It'd be better to handle [issues of Gifford's competency] now, then end up at some point – assuming there was a conviction – it coming up on appeal," Kohl said.

The court will review his legal competency again in 90 days.

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