This article was originally published on GoErie.com by Madeleine O’Neill on Feb 28, 2018
A delayed mental health evaluation is likely to force a postponement of a Millcreek Township man’s homicide trial in a December 2016 stabbing death.
The lawyer for Joseph A. Oberlander, 41, said Wednesday that he has not been able to get in touch with the Pittsburgh psychiatrist who was contacted to perform Oberlander’s evaluation in November.
Oberlander had been scheduled to face trial later this month in the Dec. 2, 2016, fatal stabbing of 32-year-old John Trusty at the former Granada Apartments in Millcreek.
Oberlander’s court-appointed lawyer, Mark Del Duca, of Pittsburgh, said his client has been refusing mental health treatment while in prison. The mental health evaluation was intended to establish whether Oberlander is competent to face trial.
Del Duca said he visited with Oberlander at the Erie County Prison on Tuesday.
“My client’s mental state yesterday, it was not good,” Del Duca said. “He made eye contact with me one time” during a one-hour meeting.
Erie County Judge Joseph M. Walsh, who is assigned to the case, asked Del Duca to continue trying to contact the psychiatrist, Robert Wettstein.
Oberlander’s trial, which had been scheduled to begin March 12, will likely be postponed. Assistant District Attorney Jared Trent said he had no objection to a continuance.
Del Duca was granted funding for the mental health evaluation in October. He said after the hearing that he was unsure whether Wettstein had received any of the funds allocated for the evaluation.
Del Duca also said there had been no plea negotiations with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office in Oberlander’s case.
Millcreek police accused Oberlander of stabbing Trusty when Trusty was looking for someone to let him use a phone after being locked out of a residence at Granada Apartments, now called the Reserve at Millcreek. Police said Oberlander produced a knife when investigators questioned him at his apartment and told police he’d cut a man who kept knocking on his door.