Pilot Who Allegedly Faked Crash Is Incompetent, Lawyer Says

An Indiana investment adviser is not mentally competent to be tried on charges he deliberately crashed his plane in the Florida Panhandle in a botched plot to fake his death to escape financial ruin, his public defender said Wednesday.

Attorney Thomas Keith asked a Florida federal judge to order a mental evaluation for Marcus Schrenker, who is due in court Thursday on the charges that also include faking a distress call. Keith said he spoke with the jailed Schrenker this week and that he is too mentally unstable for trial.

Schrenker, 38, an amateur daredevil pilot and businessman, parachuted to the ground before the crash and sped away on a motorcycle he had stashed away in central Alabama, authorities say.

A three-day search through several states ended on Jan. 13, when federal agents finally caught up to Schrenker at a campground near Tallahassee, where they say he tried to kill himself by slashing one of his wrists.

In Indiana, Schrenker faces two felony counts alleging that he worked as an investment adviser without being registered. He also is named in more than a half-dozen lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in disputes over his financial dealings.

With his problems mounting, including his wife filing for divorce, Schrenker bailed out of his plane Jan. 11 near Birmingham, Ala., authorities say. The plane, left on autopilot, continued for another 200 miles before crashing near homes in Florida.