After initially being found incompetent to stand trial, Dr. Louis Chen now is capable of taking part in his defense, a judge ruled Thursday
Dr. Louis Chen, who is facing two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the August slayings of his partner and their young son, is now competent to stand trial, King County Superior Court Chief Criminal Judge Ronald Kessler ruled on Thursday.
Chen, who has been under the care of a psychiatrist while being held at the King County Jail, underwent an evaluation by two psychiatrists from Western State Hospital.
In November, the psychiatrist treating Chen at the jail said he wasn’t competent to stand trial but was responding to the psychiatric medications he had been prescribed. That doctor, and the two from Western State, now believe Chen’s competency has been restored, Kessler was told by attorneys involved in the case.
To be found competent, the state requires that criminal defendants be able to understand the nature of the proceedings against them and rationally help their attorneys defend them. Kessler reserved ruling on a motion by the defense to seal Chen’s mental-health evaluation from the Western State doctors.
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Chen, 39, was to begin work at Virginia Mason Medical Center on Aug. 15. After he failed to appear for an orientation Aug. 11, a hospital representative went to Chen’s apartment on First Hill. She found Chen nude, semiconscious and covered in dried blood, according to charging documents.
Seattle police were called and found the bodies of his partner, Eric Cooper, 29, and 2-year-old Cooper Chen, who had been killed the day before, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
In November, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced his office would not seek the death penalty in Chen’s case. There are two possible punishments for aggravated first-degree murder: life in prison without possibility of parole or death.