Man accused of 1980 homicide ordered to undergo second competency evaluation
CHALLIS — A judge ordered the man accused of a 1980 homicide to undergo a second competency evaluation Monday.
In January, Magistrate Judge James Barrett determined 86-year-old Walter James Mason unfit for trial following a competency evaluation completed at State Hospital South in Blackfoot. Mason is charged with first-degree murder after allegedly shooting two men in September 1980 outside the Sports Club Bar. One of them, Daniel Mason Woolley, died in the parking lot of the Clayton bar.
Mason lived for nearly 40 years under the alias Walter James Allison before his Oct. 10, 2019, arrest in Texas.
At a status conference Monday, the court reviewed a motion by Custer County Prosecutor Justin Oleson to order Mason to undergo a second competency evaluation and for Mason to be recommitted to the psychiatric hospital. Defense Attorney David Cannon objected to the motion, but Barrett sided with the state.
It remains unclear why Mason’s competency is under question, as the detailed reports are sealed. However, according to court documents when Barrett reviewed the first evaluation, doctors said Mason would be unlikely to be fit for trial.
The next court date will be set as soon as medical professionals finish their report.