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Slayings suspect agrees to hearing

Patrick Hutchinson, accused of killing his wife and a firefighter before a violent standoff more than four years ago, has agreed to remain at a state mental hospital if he's found incompetent to stand trial, his attorney said.

A civil trial had been scheduled for Tuesday to determine whether Hutchinson is a danger to himself or others and should be hospitalized involuntarily at Central State Hospital in Louisville.

Before Tuesday, Hutchinson had insisted on his right to a civil trial to determine whether he should be involuntarily committed. The previous four years, Hutchinson had consented to hospitalization.

Hutchinson changed his mind Tuesday after speaking to a lawyer who had been assigned to represent him in the civil trial, said public defender Samuel Cox, who represents Hutchinson in the murder case.

If Hutchinson is found incompetent at a hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, he would be committed to Central State for an additional 360 days. If Hutchinson is deemed competent, prosecutors could proceed with their criminal case against him by asking a grand jury to reindict him.

For Hutchinson to be found competent, prosecutors must prove that Hutchinson is capable of understanding legal proceedings and can assist in his defense.

By state law, a mentally ill person can be committed for only 360 days, after which the government must seek a new commitment order to keep the patient hospitalized. Hutchinson's commitment expired Nov. 14, but he has remained hospitalized because the Fayette County commonwealth's attorney's office filed a petition for involuntary commitment Nov. 10.

In February 2004, Hutchinson fatally shot his wife, Fontaine, 60, and killed Lexington firefighter Brenda Cowan, 40, according to police records. He also shot another firefighter, Jim Sandford, according to police reports.

He then engaged in a six-hour standoff with police that ended with police firing chemical rounds and then raiding Hutchinson's home on Adams Lane in rural southern Fayette County.

During the standoff, Hutchinson told a Herald-Leader reporter, who had accidentally called the home while trying to contact neighbors, that he was staging a coup against human clones.

Hutchinson was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of wanton endangerment. Because Central State does not accept patients with pending felony charges, prosecutors dismissed his charges in 2004 after he was found incompetent to stand trial.

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