Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Brooke Wilberger: Suspect's competency evaluation begins

One of several articles on this latest development, this one comes from the Corvallis Gazette-Times:

N.M. judge orders evaluation of Wilberger suspect
Gazette-Times reporter
There’s been another delay in the prosecution of
the man accused of kidnapping and murdering Brooke Wilberger.
A New Mexico District Court judge has ordered Joel Patrick Courtney to be
evaluated by a mental hospital before proceeding to trial on rape charges in a
separate case. Courtney, 40, is accused of raping a New Mexico student in 2005.
He has also been charged with abducting, sexually assaulting and killing
19-year-old Wilberger of Veneta, who vanished from a Corvallis apartment complex
in May 2004.
Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney Theresa Watley
said Courtney would be sent to a facility in Bernalillo County or in Las Vegas,
N.M. His evaluation could be delayed until there’s an opening at either of the
“It’s not an immediate thing,” Watley said Monday.
Under state law, a preliminary finding of whether he is competent to stand
trial would be made within 30 days after he is admitted, she said.
Benton County District Attorney Scott Heiser said the evaluation would
further delay the criminal case against Courtney here. Courtney will be
extradited to Oregon following the resolution of the criminal case in New
If Courtney is found to be competent, the case could be put back in the
trial queue there.
If he is found to be mentally ill, it could take months before the trial
could resume.
“That would be a huge delay if that were the finding,” Heiser said.
Once he’s delivered to Benton County, prosecutors here said it could take a
year to get through pretrial hearings and attorneys’ motions before Courtney
faces trial.
Courtney was arrested in November 2005 in New Mexico after he allegedly
kidnapped a University of New Mexico student at knife point, forced her into her
car, tied her up and raped her.
Investigators involved in the Wilberger case connected him to the Veneta
woman’s disappearance while he was in jail for the New Mexico rape.
Courtney was charged with Wilberger’s death last August. Her body has never
been found.
Courtney may be linked to other kidnappings and killings, according to the

If you know anything about Brooke's whereabouts, please call the Corvallis Police Department at 1-877-367-2270, email, or go to
Brooke's website:
You can print a poster of Brooke at

You can read more about Brooke Wilberger in my first post on her at

All photos (Brooke, her sweatshirt, and suspect Joel Courtney) from The Charley Project.

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