–The Titonka man accused of killing a Ventura woman at a residence in Britt has been found competent to stand trial and entered a plea of not guilty.
56-year-old Monte Eckels entered the plea in Hancock County District Court on Tuesday.
Court records show that Eckels was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation prior to entering a plea, after his attorney stated he had exhibited signs of mental problems that might make it impossible for him to understand the charges against him and participate in his defense. A psychiatrist at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale filed a report recently stating that Eckels was competent to stand trial.
Eckels entered his not guilty plea after the prosecution and defense accepted the report. He is accused of stabbing 62-year-old Leallen Bergman to death in the evening hours of March 4th, and is facing a charge of 1st Degree Murder.
Eckels’ trial has been scheduled to begin on September 20th.