Murder charges against a Spokane Valley man accused of stabbing his pregnant girlfriend more than 50 times were dismissed Tuesday by a judge who deemed him mentally unfit to stand trial.
The accused killer, 22-year-old Robbie W. Bishop, instead will continue to be held at the Spokane County Jail until a formal hearing can be arranged to civilly commit him to a mental institution, Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque ruled. The fatal stabbing occurred in 2009.
Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Tony Hazel asked Leveque for a six-month delay to allow Bishop to receive both counseling and medical treatment in the hope that Bishop would be declared mentally competent, allowing the criminal trial to proceed.
But Leveque reluctantly granted the defense request to dismiss the charges without prejudice and instead civilly commit Bishop to a state mental institution. The charges could be re-filed in the future if Bishop responds to treatment.
“In this case, it is very difficult for me to do this,” the judge said. “My conclusion is, I don’t believe there is a substantial probability” that Bishop would become competent in six months.
In an unrelated case, Hazel had not filed formal charges against Bishop for a reported assault last month in which an inmate claimed that Bishop told him that he was going to kill him before choking him unconscious. Hazel said he could not comment following the hearing.
On the murder charges, the drawn-out case began on Aug. 22, 2009, when emergency crews responded to a home in the 900 block of North Bowman Road regarding an assault. They arrived to find 33-year-old Robin M. Anderson, who was between four- and six-months pregnant, stabbed multiple times by three knives.
The case has been delayed following a series of mental evaluations of Bishop, who had been diagnosed as a toddler with developmental disabilities that required 24-hour supervision until he turned 18.
“It’s an incredibly serious case,” Hazel said. “The point is to protect the defendant from himself and society from the defendant.”
But defense attorney Anna Nordtvedt said no treatment would improve Bishop’s cognitive limitations.
“He doesn’t even understand the concept of money,” Nordtvedt said. “You have to be his attorney to understand how little he understands.”
Bishop’s mother, Lisa Draper, said a mental institution is “the best place for him to be to get some help and treatment.”
Nordtvedt added: “Everyone is sorry for Robin. It’s sad for everybody.”