News

Evaluation: Pedersen not competent to stand trial

Clarence Dean Pedersen has been found not competent to stand trial in the death of his roommate, Ed Jones.

Following the publication of the report, a hearing was held on Friday, Nov. 9, to determine what the next steps will be for Pedersen.

Judge Crystal Cronk has taken a recommendation to send Pedersen to Oakdale Facility in Coralville for a further evaluation under advisement. She said she would submit her findings in writing at a later date.

Washington County Attorney John Gish stated the prosecution accepted the findings of the report and recommended Pedersen be sent to Oakdale. Assistant Johnson County public defender John Bruzek said Pedersen did not have legal reason to object to this, but asked that he not be medicated. The medical evaluation is not public record, but during the hearing it was revealed that in the opinion of the doctor who did the evaluation, Pedersen is not competent to stand trial.

“I don’t really want to go to Oakdale either,” Pedersen said to the judge during the hearing. He later asked Cronk if she heard him say he didn’t want to go to Oakdale. Cronk said she had heard him.

Gish said the treatment for restoration being given while Pedersen was held at Oakdale is necessary. Inpatient treatment was requested because, Gish said, the state considers Pedersen a danger to society and public safety due to the nature of the offense. Oakdale serves as Iowa’s medical classification facility, where anyone going to prison goes to be evaluated before it is determined where they will be placed. It is also a medium-security prison.

Bruzek explained if Pedersen is found not to be competent to stand trial when evaluated at Oakdale, a plan will be formed to make him competent.

“Sometimes that is not even possible,” he said. “That is where we are at right now. It is kind of up in the air.”

“The law provides that if a person has been found incompetent, then treatment is provided that is designed to restore them back to competency,” Gish explained.

Gish continued, stating that if Pedersen is restored to competency the state would proceed with the criminal case against him. If it is determined Pedersen cannot be made competent to stand trial, mental health professionals will determine what the next step will be.

On Aug. 23, Judge Crystal Cronk ruled legal proceedings against Pedersen should be suspended pending a competency hearing. During the hearing to determine if Pedersen was fit to stand trial, Cronk found probable cause that Pedersen was unfit and ruled that Pedersen be held for a psychological evaluation.

Johnson County Public defense attorney Peter Persaud, who was defending Pedersen, requested the hearing and evaluation, saying he did not believe Pedersen was fit to stand trial, did not understand the nature of the proceedings, and could not consult with attorneys in a manner that would assist in his defense.

Persaud commented that Pedersen had been taken off antipsychotic medication he had taken for many years. There were also reports of Pedersen being confused. He reported Pedersen did not know his own name and referred to himself as “Band Deano.”

Pedersen was arrested July 12 and charged with first-degree murder of Edward Jones, 70. At the time he was Jones’ roommate. Washington Police responded to a 911 call at approximately 7:56 a.m., Wednesday, July 11, at an apartment complex located at 601 W. Adams St., later identified as Pedersen’s home. At the residence, Jones, 70, of Washington, was found deceased. Several pieces of evidence pointing to Pedersen being involved with Jones’ death were recovered during the investigation, including a knife found at the scene. Pedersen also allegedly had a note in a lock box that read, “kill Ed.”

A previous murder conviction against Pedersen was overturned by the Iowa Supreme Court after it was found he had not been competent to stand trial. Pedersen was charged with the murder of Kent Nelson, his brother-in-law, on Dec. 30, 1978, after Nelson was found dead in Pedersen’s parents’ home in southwest Iowa. He died of a gunshot wound.