Court Orders Mental Evaluation for Murder Suspect

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WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) _ The trial of the man accused of killing a Cowley College freshman is on hold after a judge orders a mental competence evaluation.

Cowley County District Judge Jim Pringle ordered Justin Thurber be taken to Larned State Hospital. The exam is expected to take 60 days at most. The judge will then determine whether the 25-year-old Arkansas City man is competent to stand trial.

Thurber is charged with kidnapping, raping and murdering 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm. Her body was found in January 2007 in the Kaw Wildlife Area several days after she went missing.

Pringle issued the order Wednesday following a closed hearing in which experts differed on the issue of competency.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)