Competency hearing ordered for suspect in murder attempt

William Rydell

A man who was arrested at age 68 and remained in Mesa County Jail through his 70th birthday now faces an additional, undetermined time before he can be tried.

William Rydell, 70, however, will get a small change in scenery. He is to undergo a competency evaluation in Pueblo before a trial can be rescheduled, attorneys familiar with the case said Tuesday.

Mesa County District Judge Richard T. Gurley ordered Rydell evaluated after a closed-door hearing Monday, when Rydell’s trial was to be begin.

Rydell faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder, forcible sexual assault and other charges arising from an incident at his apartment at 999 Bookcliff Ave. on Dec. 5, 2008.

Police found a woman injured and unconscious and Rydell suffering from self-inflicted wounds from an apparent suicide attempt.

Rydell, who has no previous offenses, remains in jail in lieu of $500,000 bond. If and when Rydell is tried, it will be with new counsel. Attorney Colleen Scissors was allowed to withdraw from the case, and the public defender’s office was appointed to represent him.

“It’s pretty frustrating because it’s just getting ready to go again,” Scissors said Monday after the hearing. “It’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Scissors said she couldn’t discuss what led to Gurley’s order.

Prosecutor Mark Hand said he didn’t know because he and the public were barred from the courtroom while that issue was discussed by Scissors and the judge.

“I’m not privileged to know what they talked about,” Hand said. “The judge gave no basis to what they talked about.”

Bob Grafe, a friend of Rydell who said he was in court, called the development “a mockery of justice,” and said Rydell was “being persecuted before he is prosecuted.”

Hand and Scissors said they were prepared for trial on Monday.

Witnesses were on notice and arguments were ready, the attorneys said.

Once a new defense attorney is up to speed, trial preparation should be easy because statements and examinations have been prepared, Scissors said.

Rydell was to have faced a jury last September, but that trial was delayed when a dispute arose about an expert witness his defense planned to present.

He is next scheduled to appear before Gurley on May 24.


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