Man now held in Mpls. killing was found incompetent in '09

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 12, 2012 - 9:35 PM

That determination came from a judge in a mental health commitment hearing.

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Jody Patzner Sr. grieved at the memorial erected near where his son, Jody Patzner Jr., was shot.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

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The man suspected of gunning down Jody Lynmarvin Patzner Jr. in a robbery attempt on a Minneapolis street Monday night was the subject of a mental health commitment hearing three years ago after he was found carrying a pistol without a permit, according to court records.

The man, 24, lived three doors up the block from Patzner, 22, on the 3600 block of Fremont Avenue N., but Patzner's relatives said they didn't know him. The suspect was arrested Wednesday night near his home, according to Minneapolis police. He was being held at Hennepin County jail.

His past includes proceedings in 2009 and 2010 in which court officials and county social workers determined he was mentally ill but not so dangerous that he should be locked up, according to records.

"The defendant is not at risk of imminent harm to self or others," Judge Richard Hopper determined in a June 10, 2009, court order that found the man incompetent to stand trial on the weapons possession charge.

The man has not yet been formally charged with shooting Patzner. The Hennepin County attorney's office has until noon Friday to file those charges. The Star Tribune usually doesn't name suspects until they have been criminally charged.

A witness to the shooting said three young men confronted Patzner at 8:34 p.m. as he biked south on Fremont Avenue, yelling at him to give up his bike. Someone then fired two gunshots. The assailants ran away as Patzner biked past the witness and then fell over, collapsing on the sidewalk. He was pronounced dead at the scene minutes later.

The suspect's criminal record includes convictions for assault, terroristic threats and drug possession.

Following the man's arrest on Sept. 10, 2008, for carrying a weapon without a permit, Hopper found that the man was mentally ill, based on a psychologist's report and "other information provided to the court."

The judge's order suspended the court hearing on the weapons charge so the man could be considered for civil commitment, a procedure that can lead to forced hospitalization.

Three months later, a deal was struck for the man to submit to a psychiatric evaluation, take prescribed medication, avoid alcohol and nonprescribed drugs and follow his social worker's plans.

Two months later he was jailed in Polk County in northwestern Minnesota for three months on charges of assault, terroristic threats and domestic-assault strangulation, crimes committed while he was drunk, according to court records. He was released and placed on five years' probation.

He was reconsidered for civil commitment based on the assault charges, but the proceedings were eventually dismissed after a Hennepin County social worker reported in March 2010 that the man was adhering to the terms of his probation and attending a daily medication administration program.

In September, he pleaded guilty to the 2008 weapons charge, and the judge ordered two years of supervised probation.

The man's mother could not be reached for comment. Calls to his attorney in the civil commitment hearings were not returned. No one from Hennepin County who worked on the man's case in 2009 and 2010 was available for comment Thursday night.

The Patzner family, meanwhile, was relieved to hear that an arrest had been made.

Susie Kliber, Patzner's aunt, said her family has weathered two tough years after losing Patzner's grandmother to cancer in 2010.

"We just want justice," Kliber said. "He didn't deserve this. He was a very good kid."

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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