OREGON CITY, Ore. – The murder trial of a man who allegedly killed two girls and hid their bodies in his yard was put on hold Thursday after the suspect was sent to a mental hospital.
Judge Robert Herndon ruled Ward Weaver (search), 41, was severely depressed and could not cooperate in his own defense.
The disappearance of the two girls in early 2002 prompted a nationwide FBI hunt. The search ended a few hundred yards from the girls' front doors in Oregon City, when their bodies were found in Weaver's backyard under a concrete slab and in a shed. His daughter had been friendly with both victims.
Weaver was arrested in August on unrelated charges of raping his son's girlfriend. He was indicted in October on charges including aggravated murder, rape and abuse of a corpse. His father, Ward Weaver Jr. (search), on California's death row for murder, also buried a woman's corpse under concrete in the yard.
Herndon said psychiatrists agreed Weaver suffered from depression, and they had gauged his mental state as clearly impaired. The judge also said Weaver had been taking heavy doses of anti-depressant medications while in jail.
Weaver, who shuffled into the courtroom looking only at his feet, did not react to the judge's ruling, slouching in his chair.
Herndon said if doctors from the mental hospital determine Weaver is feigning his symptoms — as an expert for the prosecution had asserted — the trial will resume.
On Wednesday, psychiatrists testified Weaver told them he is hearing voices and tried to kill himself. They also said he has experienced rapid mental deterioration after being placed in solitary confinement.