FARMINGTON -- A man charged with murder will have a mental evaluation completed before the first of the year, his attorney says.
Phillip Joseph Simmons, 38, appeared before Judge David Connors in 2nd District Court on Tuesday.
Defense attorney Mark Arrington said Dr. Vickie R. Gregory has been retained to determine Simmons' mental state at the time he was accused of stabbing 57-year-old Suzanne Fry 51 times with a steak knife in her Bountiful apartment on Jan. 20, 2008.
A court hearing has been set for Jan. 4. A weeklong jury trial had been set for October but was canceled because the mental evaluation had not been completed.
After Tuesday's hearing, Arrington said Simmons was found competent to stand trial after he spent more than a year in Utah State Hospital. Simmons, who is being held in Davis County Jail, is taking medication to keep him competent.
"He understands if he takes (his medicine) he feels better," Arrington said.
Arrington said if the doctor finds that Simmons was "essentially insane at the time of the crime," then Simmons could be committed to the state hospital.
"It is my hope and my belief that Mr. Simmons was not competent at the time of the crime," Arrington said.
But because Simmons is already found competent to stand trial, "we've done it in reverse," Arrington said.
He said as long as Simmons is taking his medications, "he's not a danger to society."
If it is determined that Simmons was legally insane at the time of Fry's death, it is possible that Simmons could be released, Arrington said. But Arrington would like to see the Department of Human Services help Simmons integrate back into society.
If Simmons is found to be competent at the time of the stabbing, though, he could be convicted of murder and sentenced to serve 15 years to life in Utah State Prison.
Simmons was found by police Jan. 20, 2008, about two blocks from where the stabbing took place. He was arrested after an officer noticed him walking along a sidewalk around 11:30 p.m., wearing only a white T-shirt, camouflage pants and shoes.
He told police he got into an argument with Fry about food.
When police arrived at Fry's home, they found the woman dead in a pool of blood.
They also found a tipped-over china hutch and broken glass.
Police said that when they interviewed Simmons, he jumped from one subject to another, becoming angry and agitated before calming down.