With the one-year anniversary of last year’s murders in a First Hill apartment that left his partner and two-year-old child dead in a bloody knife attack approaching, accused killer Dr. Louis Chen appeared in a King County Superior Court room Thursday afternoon in a hearing to discuss giving the prosecution more time to complete a reconstruction of the bloody murder scene and the defense’s request to make an early decision on which judge will ultimately try the case. Court documents also reveal that a state court commissioner will weigh in on the legal battle over making Chen’s mental evaluation public.
Chen, accused of stabbing his partner and two-year-old son to death inside his First Hill apartment in the August attack, was found competent to stand trial earlier this year following treatment and assessment by doctors.
Chen is charged with two counts of first degree murder. Prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty for the 39-year-old who faces life in prison for the murders. According to prosecutors, Chen slashed his son Cooper to death with a knife and stabbed his partner Eric Cooper more than 100 times in the attack.
Chen’s attorney successfully fought to bar information from Chen’s Harborview medical records from being included in the competency report. Chen was taken to Harborview with non life-threatening injuries after police arrived at the grisly scene inside the 17th floor apartment the morning of August 11. According to his defense, Chen was restored to competency following treatment with psychiatric medications. In the most recent decision, the state court commissioner will consider whether Chen’s evaluation records should be made public.
At Thursday’s hearing, Chen appeared in prison clothing and shackled. His hair has grown out and he appeared more animated than in previous court appearances. Judge Ronald Kessler ruled that a shift in hearing dates should be allowed as the prosecution continues to work to prepare for the case and the recreation of the First Hill crime scene. He also agreed with the defense’s motion to pre-assign the case so that the presiding judge will be named earlier in the process. Chen’s defense lawyers said the case appears on course for a spring 2013 trial.