FARGO – Daniel Benjamin Habiger, 29, was supposed to have had a mental evaluation to see whether he was criminally responsible for allegedly murdering another man, but at a status hearing Wednesday, April 18, the judge learned his order hadn’t been followed.
Judge Frank Racek betrayed impatience when he wondered out loud if the North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown was going to do the evaluation at “their convenience.”
Habiger was arrested March 2 after calling police to reveal that he’d been in a fight in his apartment with an acquaintance who died, authorities said. Habiger’s been in Cass County Jail ever since awaiting trial on a murder charge. The victim was later identified as Jarryd George Heis, 32.
A witness, David Patrick Williams, pleaded guilty in March to failure to report a death, a misdemeanor. He was given credit for having served 27 days in jail.
In Habiger’s case, the judge ordered on March 19 a “commitment for psychological and criminal responsibility” within 30 days, a timeframe set in statute. The order said “the defendant’s mental status/criminal responsibility is likely to become an issue in this case,” according to court records.
That meant the deadline was Wednesday, and the hearing was to discuss the evaluation.
Prosecutor Reid Brady said he thought the evaluation might be done in May but it’s out of his office’s control.
Judge Racek asked bailiffs to contact the state hospital and set a date and time for the evaluation, saying it needs to be done in 30 days.