Maple Grove triple murder judge’s incompetence ruling cites mental illness and energy drink abuse
Schizophrenia aggravated by years of consuming caffeine-rich energy drinks has left a mentally incapable man to stand trial for killing his sister, mother and grandmother with a key in a Maple Grove home in the summer 2020.
David R. Ekers, 36, is charged with three counts of intentional second degree murder in connection with the July 2020 attacks that killed his sister, Eleanor Ekers, 34; his mother, Linda Ekers, 63; and her grandmother, Darlene Brost, 86.
However, criminal proceedings were stayed in Hennepin County District Court last week, when Judge Lisa K. Janzen ruled that David Ekers “lacks the capacity to participate in his defense to a reasonable degree. understanding or rationally participating in his defense His psychotic thinking is currently causing impaired judgment, reasoning and decision-making. “
Janzen continued that since Ekers “is incompetent [to go on trial] due to his inability to recognize that he suffers from a mental illness and, therefore, he is unable to rationally contemplate whether he should raise such a defense. “
Ekers, who was living in Plymouth at the time of the murders, remains in custody as he receives psychological treatment at the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center until a status hearing on his skills, scheduled for April 26.
Defense lawyer Melissa Fraser said Thursday that “I have great respect for Judge Janzen and I rely on his views with great deference.” A message was left with the county attorney’s office for a response to the decision.
Several doctors have examined Ekers since his arrest shortly after the murders, and all have diagnosed his schizophrenia and the influence of energy drink abuse on his mental state, according to the judge’s ruling.
Janzen wrote that his finding of incompetence was largely based on a report by Dr Jennifer Harrison of the state’s Department of Social Services, who conducted a skills assessment for Ekers.
Janzen’s decision underscored Harrison’s discovery of “Ekers’ story of a psychotic disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, impaired thought processes, and disorganized speech and behavior. [Harrison] also noted that the defendant has reported a history of increased consumption of caffeine, which may exacerbate psychotic symptoms. “
Evidence of the negative effect of energy drinks on Ekers’ schizophrenia dates back to at least 2017, according to the judge’s ruling. During a hospitalization in 2018, “Ekers’ psychotic symptoms seemed to worsen with the ingestion of large amounts of energy drinks,” said the judgment.
In July this year, Eker told a doctor at the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center that he sometimes heard voices “due to poor sleep and ingestion of energy drinks,” the ruling continues.
Ekers was voluntarily taken into psychiatric treatment in October 2018 for six months at North Memorial Health Hospital after it was discovered he suffered from schizophrenia, creating “a substantial likelihood of causing physical harm,” one reads in a report. court order. “[His] the expression of hallucinations and behaviors caused fear in his family. “
He had been hospitalized a year earlier after insisting that “his parents were impostors and that he had a diffusion device implanted in his tooth,” the order continues.
On the day of the murders, according to the criminal complaint:
Police responded to a call from John Ekers, who told them his son had seriously injured family members at the home in the 16500 block of N. 82nd Avenue. Police found the three women with serious head injuries.
His father told police he and his son were working downstairs when David Ekers went upstairs. The father heard his wife shout “David, no”, ran upstairs and saw David Ekers holding a pipe wrench. The son dropped the key and curled up into a ball.
In an interview with the police, David Ekers admitted to trying to kill his grandmother, mother and sister. David Ekers told police he believed the women wanted him to return to the hospital or start taking his medication again.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482