The Ottumwa man accused of murdering another man in May of this year has been ruled mentally unfit to stand trial at this time.
Preston Martin faces a charge of first-degree murder in the May 25th death of Thomas Foster. In September, his attorney requested a psychiatric evaluation, saying the 38-year-old Martin was unable to carry on coherent conversations, and wasn’t currently capable of assisting effectively in his own defense.
In October, Judge Greg Milani ordered Martin to be evaluated at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville. A hearing on that evaluation was held on Monday, where the court heard that Martin suffers from multiple mental health issues, leaving him unable to understand the charges against him. State assistant attorney general Scott Brown told the court he accepted the report, and Judge Milani ordered Martin to be sent to treatment.
Under Iowa Chapter 812, Martin will be be confined to a treatment facility, and receive mental health treatment designed to restore him to competency. His criminal proceedings are suspended until he is deemed fit to stand trial, a process that could take over a year.
Martin also faces charges of first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery. Ottumwa police say Martin broke into the 41-year-old Foster’s home on Queen Anne Avenue, killed him and stole some of his property.
As a reminder, a criminal charge is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.