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Published December 02, 2013, 04:02 PM

Cass judge refuses to take guilty plea from man charged in double murder

FARGO – A Cass County judge refused to take a guilty plea in court Monday from a man who told the court he murdered his ex-girlfriend and another man here, on the grounds the judge wasn’t sure the accused was sane enough to plead.

By: Emily Welker, Forum News Service, INFORUM, Forum News Service

FARGO – A Cass County judge refused to take a guilty plea in court Monday from a man who told the court he murdered his ex-girlfriend and another man here, on the grounds the judge wasn’t sure the accused was sane enough to plead.

David George Stevens, 35, took the stand in Cass County District Court at an arraignment on double murder charges Monday.

Stevens is accused of stabbing to death 23-year-old Samantha Dawn Wickenheiser and 30-year-old Ward Allen Berg Nov. 23 at the north Fargo home Stevens once shared with Wickenheiser and the couple’s two children.

Stevens took the stand to tell the court he came to Fargo from South Dakota late in the night of the Nov. 22 with the intention of slashing Wickenheiser’s tires because she had not responded to his text messages.

He testified that he discovered Wickenheiser in the apartment, physically involved with Berg, who he said was her drug dealer. Stevens told the court he didn’t remember that he had knives in his hands, but that he wanted to hurt the victims.

He said he didn’t recall stabbing Wickenheiser, who was found with a serrated knife in her head.

“I thought I just hit her in the head and she fell down,” he said on the stand.

Under questioning from Cass County prosecutor Tristan Van de Streek, Stevens said he had taken medication since he was 10 years old for mental health issues, among them a schizoaffective disorder.

“I talk to walls half the day,” Stevens told the court.

Judge Steven Marquart said he could not take any plea from Stevens and had concerns the defendant fully understood what was happening in court. He ordered a psychological evaluation on Stevens.

Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick said he had never had a judge refuse to take a guilty plea from a defendant under these circumstances.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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