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Man accused of killing wife of 59 years ordered to undergo competency evaluation

Crime Watch

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Robert Degnan | Caribou County Jail

MONTPELIER — A judge has ordered the 88-year-old Bear Lake County man who allegedly shot and killed his wife to undergo a competency evaluation.

Magistrate Judge Todd Garbett signed the competency evaluation on Monday for Robert Degnan, who is charged with first-degree murder. According to an affidavit of probable cause, Degnan said he shot and killed his wife of 56 years, Marjorie O. Degnan, 79, on Sept. 6, after the two intended to commit suicide together.

Degnan told investigators the force of the gunshot blinded him and caused him to lose the firearm before he could pull the trigger on himself. Court documents indicated that hours after Degnan allegedly shot his wife, he called 911, which led to the gruesome discovery. When speaking with detectives, Degnan reportedly told police the couple had planned the joint suicide months before.

RELATED | 88-year-old Bear Lake County man charged with first-degree murder

There was no suicide note found at the crime scene.

Marjorie O. Degnan | Obituary photo

The competency evaluation came at the request of Degnan’s attorney, Joe Hayes, who asked that Dr. John Christensen, a licensed clinical psychologist, conduct the evaluation. Garbett agreed and is allowing Degnan to be taken to Pocatello for the evaluation next week.

According to Marjorie Degnan’s obituary, she met her husband in 1962 at New York Hospital where Robert Degnan was a resident. The couple had eight kids and ultimately moved to Bear Lake County where Robert Degnan, an OB-GYN, worked at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital.

“Until the very end, Midge’s truest love was Bob, to whom she was forever devoted,” the obituary reads. “It is impossible to describe the grief the family feels at this time. Their comfort comes in knowing Midge is free from suffering. Her legacy shines on through her husband, Dr. Robert Degnan; her eight children (and other family members).”

Since his arrest on Sept. 6, Degnan has been held without bail in the Caribou County Jail, which houses inmates for Bear Lake County.

With the order of the competency evaluation, a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday is postponed until further notice.

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