News Article Details

Mental health evaluation sought in Buchanan County homicide case

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - 1/3/2018

Jan. 03--INDEPENDENCE -- A judge has halted the criminal case against an Independence woman accused of stabbing her ex-husband to death as part of a custody dispute.

The move will allow mental health workers to determine if Hillary Lee Hunziker, 32, is competent to stand trial on murder charges.

Defense attorney Laura Gavigan requested the evaluation based on her review of medical records and evidence in the case and her observations of Hillary Hunziker's behavior during meetings.

Hillary Hunziker "has mental health diagnoses that make it difficult for her to understand the charge and proceedings against her and to assist in her own defense," Gavigan wrote in a motion to suspend the case pending an evaluation.

Trial had been scheduled for Jan. 10 in Buchanan County District Court.

Judge Andrea Dryer ordered the case be put on hold following a Tuesday pretrial conference, and she ordered Hillary Hunziker to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she suffers from a mental condition that prevents her from understanding the court process or contributing to her defense.

Authorities allege Hillary Hunziker slipped into 39-year-old Jason Allen Hunziker's rural Independence home in the early morning hours of Nov. 6, stabbed him and then left with their 9-year -- old son. She allegedly had plans to flee the state.

Prosecutors said that before the slaying, Hillary Hunziker had been involved in a lengthy custody dispute that included her lodging false neglect and abuse allegations.


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