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Mon, Aug. 26

Judge orders competency evaluation for accused killer

Francis Klettke

Francis Klettke

CAMP VERDE – Monday, a Yavapai County judge ruled on a motion for a mental-health evaluation of a man accused of murdering his father.

Francis C. Klettke, 24, spoke with Yavapai Superior Court Judge Michael R. Bluff by phone during a hearing Monday to address a few motions related to Klettke's first-degree murder charge. Bluff decided to grant a defense request for a "preliminary Rule 11 evaluation" on behalf of Yavapai County, even though Klettke is in jail in Maricopa County.

Klettke is charged with the murder of his father in October 2016 at a campsite in the Fossil Creek area. About one year after his mother put up assets to make a $200,000 bond and get him out of jail, he was arrested in June in Maricopa County on an arson charge.

Klettke, who is from the Union City, Calif., area, is being held without bond at the Lower Buckeye Jail in Maricopa County. He is undergoing a "Rule 11" evaluation from a pair of psychiatric personnel while at that facility.

In Monday's hearing, Bluff asked defense attorney Jillian Bachman-Underhill what the benefits might be of beginning a separate Rule 11 evaluation for Yavapai County while Klettke is undergoing the same evaluation while in jail in Buckeye. Bachman-Underhill replied that "there aren't many doctors available in our small state," and a separate and updated evaluation, as part of the Yavapai County case, might be a needed component going forward.

Bachman-Underhill also said Klettke is "responding to internal stimuli" while in jail in Buckeye. He had been declared competent to face charges in February 2018, and, despite a plea deal being offered last summer, resolution of the charges never happened..

Klettke was due to stand trial for first-degree murder on Jan. 22, 2020, but he will remain in jail in Maricopa County until his new case there is adjudicated.

Judge Bluff scheduled Klettke’s next court date for Tuesday, Sept. 3, when the defendant will most likely appear by telephone again.

Two other motions were still under consideration by Bluff as of this writing.

Klettke's mother, Esther Velasquez Klettke, has moved, through a Phoenix-area law firm, to have the bond exonerated, as her son is in custody. This would relieve her of responsibility for the $200,000 she put up in assets as bond in May in order to get her son out of jail.

The other motion by the defense is for Klettke to self-surrender to Yavapai County authorities, if need be, as a matter of procedure, in order to proceed with his murder case.

On Oct. 27, 2016, Yavapai County Sherrif's deputies were dispatched to a campsite near the main trailhead area off Fossil Creek Road (southeast of Camp Verde) for a report of a dead man. A news release from Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said deputies confirmed the death and noted trauma to the man’s head.

Deputies contained the area and interviewed campers nearby. Detectives discovered that the victim’s son had several matching characteristics of the man seen in a Jeep by witnesses – which was registered with his Union City address.

Two days later, Klettke was arrested by Union City police officers during a traffic stop, booked, and later extradited to Yavapai County.

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