Titonka man accused of murdering Ventura woman to rely on diminished responsibility defense

GARNER — A Titonka man accused of murdering a Ventura woman in Britt earlier this year intends to rely on a defense of diminished responsibility in his trial scheduled for next year.

57-year-old Monte Eckels was charged with first-degree murder after being accused of fatally stabbing Leallen Bergman while inside a residence at 275 4th Street Southeast in Britt on the night of March 4th.

Documents recently filed in Hancock County District Court show that while Eckels’ lawyers had considered a defense of insanity, intoxication and justification, they’ve notified the court they will rely on the diminished responsibility defense, which by definition means they contend Eckels has some form of mental disorder sufficient to reduce moral culpability in the act.

Eckels’ trial is currently scheduled to start on January 24th.  If convicted of first-degree murder, a Class A felony, Eckels would face the rest of his life in prison without the opportunity for parole.