Competency, arraignment hearing set for Titonka man accused of murdering Ventura woman in Britt

GARNER — A competency hearing and arraignment hearing is set for Tuesday for a Titonka man accused of murdering a Ventura woman in Britt in March. 

56-year-old Monte Eckels is accused of stabbing Leallen Bergman while inside a residence at 275 4th Street Southeast in Britt on the night of March 4th. Bergman died as a result of the attack. Eckels was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, a Class A felony punishable by life in prison without the opportunity for parole.

Prior to Eckels’ scheduled arraignment in April, his attorney stated that after meeting with him several times, Eckels had exhibited signs of a mental health disorder that would prevent him from appreciating the charge, understanding the proceedings or assisting effectively in his own defense. District Judge Christopher Foy ordered that Eckels undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale.

Hancock County Attorney Rachel Ginbey earlier this week filed a motion, stating that the center’s staff psychiatrist filed a report last week that found Eckels was competent to stand trial and she believed Eckels’ arraignment hearing should be scheduled.

That request was approved Wednesday afternoon, with the hearing set for late Tuesday morning in Hancock County District Court.