Judge rules man can assist in his defense
A mentally ill Spokane man accused of murdering a woman with a crossbow more than two years ago is set for trial in January after a judge ruled he’s able to assist his attorney.
Cole K. Strandberg, 24, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to aggravated first-degree murder before Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen. The charge carries either the death penalty or life in prison. Prosecutors decided in October not to seek the death penalty.
Strandberg has been on medication in the Spokane County Jail since Eitzen deemed him incompetent to stand trial last January.
The case began Jan. 7, 2008, when Strandberg walked into Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center about 7 a.m. and told employees, “I have a dead body. It’s a girl. I will probably go to prison,” according to court documents.
Police found the body of Jennifer Bergeron, 22, at Strandberg’s apartment at 1304 S. Chestnut St. Investigators described the scene as “extremely brutal.”
Since then, Strandberg has become one of the jail’s most notorious inmates. Extra jailers accompany him to and from court. He was featured last year in an episode of “Behind Bars,” a TV show on the Discovery Channel, which included a video clip of Strandberg fracturing a jail deputy’s neck during an altercation in his cell.
Jury selection is set to begin Jan. 5. A pre-trial conference is set for early December.
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