Weaver Ruled Fit for Trial in Girls' Killings

Ward Weaver (search), the man accused of killing two girls and hiding their bodies in his backyard, is fit to stand trial on murder charges, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The ruling came after Weaver spent four months in the Oregon State Hospital (search), where his mental fitness was evaluated.

A trial date is expected to be determined sometime in September, Judge Robert Herndon said.

"We will agree that Mr. Weaver has regained his ability to aid and assist," defense attorney Peter Fay said after the judge's ruling.

Prosecutors did not offer comment on the ruling.

Weaver, whose case fascinated Oregonians for months and attracted national attention, was in court on Wednesday, where he conferred with his attorneys but did not look at spectators.

The disappearance of the two Oregon City girls — Ashley Pond (search), 12, and Miranda Gaddis (search), 13 — in early 2002 prompted a nationwide FBI hunt that ended when their bodies were found in Weaver's backyard, a few hundred yards from their front doors.

Weaver's daughter had been friendly with both victims.

Weaver was arrested that August on unrelated charges of raping his son's girlfriend. He was indicted in October 2002 on charges including aggravated murder, rape and abuse of a corpse, and faces the death penalty if convicted.

His father, Ward Weaver Jr., on California's death row for murder, also buried a woman's corpse under concrete in the yard.

At a hearing in April, Herndon said psychiatrists agreed Weaver suffered from depression, and his attorneys revealed that he had been taking heavy doses of anti-depressant medications while in jail. Psychiatrists testified Weaver told them he was hearing voices and tried to kill himself.

The psychiatrist for the prosecution also said it was likely Weaver was faking symptoms of mental illness to avoid trial.