Court proceedings were once again continued for a Somali man charged with second-degree murder in connection with a fatal motorcycle accident in October 2017, as court officials await a medical evaluation to determine whether he's competent to stand trial.
Bashir Omar, 31, 312 W. Mary St., is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 67-year-old Robert Becker of Garden City. Becker was riding a motorcycle southbound in the 2400 block of Fleming Street on the evening of Oct. 7, 2017, when Omar allegedly ran him down from behind in a Jeep.
Trouble finding Somali translators for hearings and difficulties scheduling a mental competency evaluation at Larned State Hospital have repeatedly complicated Omar's court proceedings, as his second court appearance has been continued five times.
Court officials on Monday, when a second appearance in Finney County District Court had been scheduled yet again, said that Omar was admitted to Larned on April 19. He was not present in the courtroom when the continuance was announced.
District Judge Robert Frederick noted continued issues finding a translator, and Omar must remain at Larned for a minimum of 45 days before an evaluation can be completed.
Omar’s defense counsel, Lucille Douglass, noted that there also has been difficulty constructing a biographical history of Omar and that he has been admitted to the hospital for health complications before.
Judge Frederick scheduled a case management hearing for 4:30 p.m. June 18.
“Hopefully by then we’ll have a (medical) report in hand, we’ll have him back here, and we’ll have a much better feel for where things are going,” Frederick said.
When Omar last appeared in court in February, Douglass noted over speakerphone that medical records requested from Minnesota, another state with a large Somali community, showed that Omar had prior inpatient treatment for visual and auditory hallucinations.
Those findings could be relevant to Omar’s competency to stand trial, which is legally unrelated to a defendant’s mental state at the time he or she commits a crime, according to Nolo, a legal press and advocacy group.
Among factors of consideration in determining competency are the defendant’s abilities to communicate with defense counsel, understand and process information, make decisions regarding the case and understand the charges and possible penalties.
Police say Omar showed signs of impairment when officers made contact with him and conducted a field sobriety test the night of the accident. In addition to the second-degree murder charge, he faces charges of reckless driving and driving under the influence.
According to a police affidavit, Omar told police he was intoxicated on the night of the accident by a combination of alcohol and something similar to betel nuts, a potent stimulant found in parts of east Africa and Asia.
The affidavit also noted that during a police interview conducted with the assistance of a Somali translator a day after Becker’s death, Omar said he saw the motorcycle prior to impact but the motorcycle “stopped suddenly” without any indication of a brake light or turn signal.
He told police that at no time during the accident did he take his foot off of his accelerator, and he said it was “the will of God” that the accident occurred.
Contact Mark Minton at email@example.com.