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For the week of May 23 through May 29, 2001

High to be examined for mental competence

Express Staff Writer

A Fifth District Court judge Monday ordered Gail J. High, who is charged with trying to shoot the wife of a Ketchum police officer, examined by a psychiatrist to determine if she is fit to stand trial.

An arraignment for High has been set for June 18 in Fifth District Court in Hailey.

Gail High, accused of attempted murder of a police officer in December, appeared Monday in Fifth District Court in Hailey. Express photo by Willy Cook

High, a 38-year-old former clerk with the Sun Valley Police Department, was indicted by a grand jury in January on charges of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, burglary and the use of a firearm to commit a crime, all felonies.

High allegedly tried to shoot Colleen Kassner, the wife of Ketchum police sergeant Dave Kassner, on Dec. 16. The officer had earlier cited High for DUI.

High was intercepted and subdued at the Kassner home by their roommate, John Straka. A shot was allegedly fired from High’s .40-caliber handgun during the struggle.

For most of the time since her arrest, High has been involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities. She is currently confined at the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center in Burley, a county jail, because the Blaine County jail is full.

During a court proceeding Monday, Judge James May ordered the psychiatric examination after both prosecution and defense agreed to its advisability. May ordered High transported to Ketchum for each examination by Dr. Gerald Brooks.

Under Idaho law, a defendant cannot be tried or convicted if "as a result of mental disease or defect [he] lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense…"

Due to a legal conflict of interest between the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Sun Valley Police Department, the case is being prosecuted by the Idaho Attorney General’s office.



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