Following Insanity Defense Flip-Flops, Man Deemed Competent To Stand Trial For Idaho Woman's Death

Jan 7, 2019

Anthony Montwheeler's on again, off again use of insanity as a defense dates back to 1997. After tests deemed him fit to answer for the crimes he's accused of, Montwheeler is scheduled to enter a plea at the end of February.
Credit SalFalko / Flickr

A man once deemed mentally unfit to stand trial for the death of his ex-wife has been cleared to face charges of murder, assault and kidnapping.


In 1997, Anthony Montwheeler was found guilty of kidnapping his wife and son in Baker City, Oregon. Claiming insanity, Montwheeler was placed in the custody of Oregon’s Psychiatric Review Board for 70 years.

Montwheeler spent almost two decades in state custody until late 2016 when he told authorities he’d been faking insanity the whole time. The psychiatric board tested him and found no evidence of mental illness. He was promptly discharged, and he moved to the Treasure Valley.

Less than a month went by before Annita Harmon – Montwheeler’s ex-wife and a native of Weiser – was kidnapped as she left for work. Harmon was driven to Oregon and stabbed in Ontario. Police quickly located Montwheeler, and gave chase. During the pursuit, a collision resulted in the death of David Bates, a father of five.

According to the Malheur Enterprise, Montwheeler was indicted for the deaths of Harmon and Bates. As judicial proceedings went forward, lawyers for Montwheeler hinted at insanity as a possible defense. He was tested by Oregon authorities, and in January of 2018, he was deemed unfit for trial. That decision was reaffirmed by a judge months later in September.

However, a report out from the state last month said Montwheeler had sufficiently recovered his faculties to stand trial for the kidnapping and deaths. He’s represented by three public defenders and is scheduled to enter a plea February 22.

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