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2 say man charged in triple homicide not competent

SALT LAKE CITY — A man charged with murdering three people — including a 2-month-old girl — inside a house he rented to them is not competent to proceed with his court hearings, a prosecutor said.

On Monday, the results of a competency evaluation on Alexander Hung Tran, 33, were given to 3rd District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills. Two doctors both concluded Tran was not competent to proceed, said Salt Lake County deputy district attorney Matt Janzen.

The next step, he said, is to have doctors at the Utah State Hospital evaluate Tran.

"We're waiting for the state hospital to give us a report on is he restorable, and what will they be able to do and how long that will take," he said.

Tran was charged in 2015 with three counts of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in the deaths of Heike Poike, 50; Poike's 2-month-old granddaughter, Lyrik Poike; and Dakota Smith, 28.

Poike rented the upstairs area of Tran's home, 639 N. Sir Phillip Drive (1990 West). Their bodies were discovered after Poike's 8-year-old grandson wasn't picked up from school that afternoon. Police say each victim was shot multiple times.

Since he was charged, there has been little progress in the case. As of Monday, Tran had still not been arraigned. It's during an arraignment hearing that a defendant is asked to enter a plea for the first time.

Janzen did not specify Monday about the specific diagnosis of those who conducted the competency examination. However, according to a search warrant, Tran had been diagnosed as “paranoid schizophrenic” just a few months before the killings.

"In an interview with Tran's parents, as a normal course of the investigation into Tran’s personal history, it was learned that Tran had been admitted to University Neuropsychiatric Institute on June 7, 2015, and released on July 7, 2015," a Salt Lake police officer wrote in the affidavit.

Police were called to Tran's house on June 7 on a "possible psychotic problem."

"Today, he took apart a pair of scissors, held the pieces in his hands and started screaming he was Edward Scissorhands. He also brandished several kitchen knives in an alarming manner," a police report states. "His mother and stepfather appeared to be extremely frightened of Alex and refused to go back inside the house."

Four days before the killings, Tran told his mother that other people were living in the house that she had purchased for him. She told him that the people couldn't be there, charging documents state.

"(The mother) instructed Tran to tell the people to go and stated she would start the eviction process," the charges state. On the day of the shootings, Tran called his mother again and allegedly told her "the people upstairs were gone."

"If I think it's my mom's fault and she should be here instead, is there anything I can do?" he allegedly asked the officers who arrived at his house. "She made me do it. I'm not saying I didn't do it."

Tran's next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.