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DROP CHARGES AND FREE `NEMO,' LAWYERS SAY

Attorneys for a man charged with shooting a Sandy man to death have asked a judge to drop the murder charge.

A motion filed in 3rd District Court seeks to dismiss second-degree murder and aggravated assault charges against Eugene Woodland, also known as Captain Nemo. The motion also requests that he be released from Utah State Hospital, where he has been held for more than 14 months.Woodland, 62, was committed to the hospital in December 1990 after a judge ruled that he was mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial. Psychiatrists had evaluated him a few months earlier and found him sane, but two others evaluated him months later and recommended that he be sent to the mental hospital.

But defense attorneys contend that he should be released because he is being held forcibly at the hospital only because he is not capable of assisting with his defense at a trial. "And there is a substantial probability that this incapacity will not change in the foreseeable future," wrote attorneys Lisa Remal and Robert Steele.

Woodland has not been found guilty of any crime and they argued that his rights are being violated if he is held any longer. He was committed on a civil, not a criminal basis.

Third District Judge Anne Stirba ordered that additional psychological evaluations be conducted and said she would hear arguments on the motion April 20.

Woodland is accused of shooting Bruce Larson, 40, on March 28, 1990, at a construction site at 4050 S. 900 East. Woodland had once planned to turn the building there into Captain Nemo's Dinner Theater, but Larson's firm gained ownership of it when Woodland ran into financial problems.

Prosecutors believe Woodland can become competent to stand trial if he takes medication the hospital has prescribed. But Woodland has steadfastly refused what he calls "chemical lobotomy."

Whether he should be forced to take the medication has been the subject of several court and hospital battles during the past year. A federal judge is scheduled to hear more arguments about his proposed forced medication in May.