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Pendleton murder trial suspended

Judge finds probable cause for mental incompetency

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Webster County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Rod Strait keeps his hand on Joshua Pendleton’s shoulder during Pendleton’s competency hearing Friday morning. District Judge Gina Badding found probable cause to determine Pendleton is incompetent to stand trial.

See the complete story update on this breaking news feature here.

A judge found probable cause in court Friday morning to determine that Josh Pendleton, the Fort Dodge man accused of robbing and killing Rev. Al Henderson in October, is incompetent to stand trial.

District Court Judge Gina Badding ordered Pendleton, 36, to undergo a mental health evaluation at the Iowa Medical Classification Correctional Facility (Oakdale) and treatment, if necessary.

Defense attorney Michelle Wolf said that she has had substantial difficulty preparing with Pendleton for his upcoming trial for first-degree murder and first-degree robbery, which was scheduled to start in April.

Wolf said Pendleton has struggled to understand why he should put on clothes, and that communications with jail staff revealed he has been eating and smearing his feces over his jail cell.

Wolf said Pendleton has a long history of schizophrenia.

The state did not resist Wolf’s motion.

This breaking news story is still in development. Further updates will be posted as they become available.