WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 14, 2010, 11:38 AM

Judge says MN murder suspect is competent

MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a North Dakota man accused in a fatal strangling in Minnesota 17 years ago is fit to stand trial.

Judge Galen Vaa weighed testimony from two psychiatrists who disagreed about the competency of 45-year-old Clarence Burcham.

The Center, N.D., man is charged with murder in the death of Sharon Stafford, who was found dead in a Moorhead mobile home park in 1993. Police allege Burcham admitted in an interview last summer to strangling his 26-year-old neighbor with an electrical cord after she called him retarded.

Vaa's ruling set a pretrial hearing in the case for June 24, at which the trial schedule likely will be set.