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Court orders sanity eval for accused killer

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The man accused of murdering a Whitman College employee last summer has been ordered to receive a sanity or diminished capacity evaluation at the public’s expense.

Colby J. Hedman, 24, with no permanent address, was ordered in November 2019 to receive three months of “competency restoration treatment” at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake after lawyers doubted his ability to stand trial.

This new order, for a sanity or diminished capacity evaluation, was signed Friday by Walla Walla County Judge John Lohrmann and grants $1,000 for an evaluation and report.

No specific hospital or doctor was named, but the order allowed defense attorney Robin Olson to retain an expert since Hedman was not able to pay for an evaluation.

The order also stated “funds are reasonable, and an evaluation is necessary to adequately represent defendant in this matter.”

Hedman’s trial is scheduled for March 24, but that could be delayed as the defense seeks additional information.

Hedman’s bail was set at $1 million in September, after he was extradited from Baker County, Ore., in connection with the July slaying of Kyle Martz, 35, of Walla Walla.

Hedman admitted to police at his arrest that he struck Martz with an ax multiple times before stealing his car and fleeing to Oregon, where he was arrested trying to elude officers.

Officials suspect Hedman and Martz didn’t know each other.

Plans to formally arraign Hedman, or hear charges and record his plea, were postponed pending the earlier treatment evaluation. He finally pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and vehicle theft in late January.

Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle said, in an earlier interview, that Hedman would plead only “if his competency is restored.”

However, Hedman’s attorney said at the arraignment he planned to follow up with the insanity evaluation.

Competency refers more to the defendant’s ability to understand what’s happening in court, while insanity refers to his state of mind during the alleged crime and is used as part of the defense’s argument.

Hedman’s former attorney, Jesse Montagnino, withdrew as he said he would be moving out of state, records stated.

Emily Thornton can be reached at

emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.