Competency hearing rescheduled to September for defendant in 1974 Willmar homicide

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Jun. 19—WILLMAR — A competency hearing slated Friday for Algene Vossen to stand trial for a 1974 Willmar homicide was rescheduled due to issues with scheduling independent evaluators for both the prosecution and defense.

A court-appointed evaluator has declared Vossen unfit for trial.

Eighth District Judge Stephen Wentzell on Friday ordered Vossen to undergo a neurological evaluation and to comply with a mutually agreed upon location and time for independent evaluators from the prosecution and the defense to address Vossen's fitness to stand trial. The proceeding was held via Zoom video conferencing software.

Judge Wentzell set the competency hearing for Sept. 10.

Vossen is currently in Des Moines, Iowa, in the care of his niece to seek medical treatment for various mental and physical disabilities, including dementia.

An evaluator would need to be licensed in that state in order to perform the evaluation as well as be familiar with Minnesota law.

Vossen's lawyer, Kent D. Marshall, of Barrett, attempted to have an independent evaluator who is licensed in Minnesota be granted temporary permission to conduct the evaluation in Iowa, according to court documents. Officials told them they would be prosecuted for unauthorized practice if they did so.

The evaluation by the court-appointed forensic psychologist Dr. Tricia Aiken declared that Vossen does not have the capacity to engage with his lawyer with a "reasonable degree of rational understanding," according to Judge Wentzell.

"(Aiken) is of the opinion that Mr. Vossen suffers from mental or cognitive impairment to the extent that it renders him unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him to assist properly in his defense," Judge Wentzell said in court in April.

Related story from April: Competency hearing set for Vossen after evaluation declares him unable to assist in his defense against murder charge in 1974 Willmar homicide

Competency evaluations are considered confidential and are not available to the public normally.

Vossen, 79, is charged with second-degree murder in the 1974 killing of Mabel "Mae" Agnes Boyer Herman in Willmar. He was charged last year after a Willmar Police Department cold case team was able to connect Vossen to the homicide after matching his DNA with a sweater Herman was wearing the night she was killed.

Read more of the West Central Tribune's coverage of Algene Vossen in the Mae Herman homicide.

A Willmar native, Vossen was living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when he was arrested in July. He was booked into the Kandiyohi County Jail in September following extradition proceedings and made his first appearance in Kandiyohi County. He was held on $1 million bail.

Vossen was released from jail in October of 2020. He was hospitalized in St. Cloud from Oct. 17 to Oct. 27 for medical treatment. He was then released into the care of his niece in Iowa, where he remains currently.

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