Evaluation ordered in stabbing case

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SANDPOINT — A Washington state man’s fitness to proceed in a murder case against him is being drawn into question.

Chief Public Defender Janet Whitney Coleman moved for a mental health evaluation due to statements Jacob Corban Coleman allegedly made to Bonner County sheriff’s investigators and the seriousness of the charged offense.

Coleman, a 19-year-old from Puyallup, is accused of stabbing Gagandeep Singh to death in Kootenai on Monday. Singh, a driver for United Cab, picked Coleman up at Spokane International Airport and directed the 22-year-old cabbie to Bonner County.

Coleman is charged with first-degree murder and use of a weapon during the commission of a felony. He is being held at the Bonner County Jail without bond.

Whitney did not specify which remarks Coleman allegedly made which raised questions about his capacity to assist his own defense.

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office released a detailed statement after Singh was slain. The statement said Coleman flew from Seattle to Spokane in order to enroll at Gonzaga University. He was denied admission and began having homicidal thoughts, the statement said.

Coleman, sheriff’s officials said, directed Signh to drive to a friend’s home in eastern Bonner County, but had Singh stop en route at local store where Coleman allegedly purchased the knife that was used to repeatedly stab Singh at the corner of Spokane Street and East Railroad Avenue.

Bonner County Magistrate Court Judge Lori Meulenberg signed off on the evaluation order on Thursday, court records show.

The order requires Coleman to undergo an evaluation for a diagnosis and an opinion as to his capacity to understand the proceedings against him and assist in his own defense. A report will be filed under seal with the court within 30 days.

The evaluation order suspends the criminal proceedings against Coleman. A preliminary hearing in the case had been planned for Sept. 6.

Spokane’s tight-knit cab community expressed shock over Singh’s slaying, according to television news reports. Cabbies said picking up passengers at the airport is typically unconcerning because of strict Transportation Security Administration regulations involving weapons.

Fellow cab driver Dan Cyrus said Singh was the most honest person he’d ever met and universally well regarded in the cab community.

“He was one of the few drivers who everybody liked,” Cyrus told TV station KXLY.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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