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COMPETENCY RULING WILL DELAY `CAPTAIN NEMO' MURDER TRIAL

Eugene Woodland's murder trial, tentatively set to begin Sept. 22, will be delayed at least a day while 3rd District Court Judge Anne Stirba rules on whether Woodland is competent to stand trial.

Woodland, also known as "Captain Nemo" for a restaurant he once planned to build, is accused of shooting Bruce Larson, 40, at a construction site at 4050 S. 900 East in March 1990.Though Woodland has maintained he is competent and has repeatedly asked for a chance to prove his innocence at trial, defense attorneys have fought to keep him locked up at the Utah State Hospital. The attorneys have said Woodland has delusions about events the day of the shooting and believes he is the focus of a conspiracy to frame him.

Woodland was released from the state hospital in July and is being held at Salt Lake County Jail. Stirba ordered frequent psychiatric evaluations of Woodland to determine his mental state.

Woodland has a second case pending in federal court. But his release from the state hospital may make the case moot. While in the state hospital, hospital administrators forced Woodland to take medication they said would make him competent to stand trial.

Woodland sought a restraining order prohibiting the forced medication, claiming it violated his civil rights. After a hearing on the matter, U.S. District Judge David Winder ordered the hospital to stop medicating Woodland. A trial on the matter has been delayed until after Woodland's criminal trial, said Mary Rudolph, attorney for Woodland.

At a pretrial conference held Monday on the murder charge, Stirba ordered Woodland to appear at another pretrial conference Sept. 22. If he is deemed competent then, his trial will proceed Sept. 23.