Stabbing suspect’s case on holdMOORHEAD - A Canadian man accused of nearly stabbing another man to death at a rest stop near Moorhead has been found to have a mental illness – effectively putting the criminal case on hold.
By: IN-FORUM, Worthington Daily Globe
MOORHEAD - A Canadian man accused of nearly stabbing another man to death at a rest stop near Moorhead has been found to have a mental illness – effectively putting the criminal case on hold.
Harmit Bhangu, 32, has been diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder and found incompetent to stand trial. He is charged with second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon for a Jan. 11 incident at the Interstate 94 rest stop outside Moorhead.
Bhangu is accused of stabbing a truck driver eight to 10 times. He told police God ordered him to do it, Clay County District Court documents state.
The victim, Dale Morigeau of Montana, survived the attack. Bhangu is also accused of assaulting a police officer after the incident.
Bhangu underwent evaluations while being held in the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter to determine whether he has the mental capacity to assist with his own defense and whether he was able to understand right and wrong at the time of the acts he is accused of committing.
The evaluations found Bhangu does not have the competency to assist in his defense or comprehend the trial and he did not have an understanding of what he was doing at the time that he committed the offenses, Clay County Attorney Brian Melton said.
The results were released Monday during a review hearing. Civil commitment procedures are now under way, Melton said.
If at some point doctors feel that Bhangu has the capacity to understand what is going on, prosecutors can proceed with the criminal case against him in the next three years, Melton said.
If the case were to go to trial, Bhangu attorney’s could argue he should be found not guilty due to insanity and cite the evaluation that found he could not form intent to commit the crimes, Melton said.
Authorities will receive updates on Bhangu’s treatment every six months, Melton said. Over time, doctors will determine whether Bhangu suffers from full schizophrenia, schizophrenia affective disorder or bipolar disorder, Melton said.
In the meantime, Bhangu will remain in the maximum-security psychiatric hospital that serves people who have been committed by the court as mentally ill and dangerous.
A hearing on the civil commitment proceedings is expected in the next two months.
Approximately 2.4 million American adults have schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
“People with schizophrenia sometimes hear voices others don’t hear, believe that others are broadcasting their thoughts to the world, or become convicted that others are plotting to harm them,” according to the institute’s Web site.
Symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking and social withdrawal, usually develop in men in their late teens or early twenties and women in the twenties to thirties, according to the institute.
Authorities do not have a mental health history for Bhangu, who is originally from India, but was living in Canada at the time of the incident, Melton said.
“It’s pretty clear he’s got serious mental illness issues,” Melton said, citing the unprovoked attack and Morigeau not knowing Bhangu prior to the incident.