A former Missouri State University instructor was deemed fit for trial after being treated for mental instability following the alleged murder of a former MSU professor.
Edward Gutting is charged with killing retired history professor Marc Cooper after allegedly breaking into his house in August 2016. In the attack, Gutting is accused of fatally stabbing Cooper and injuring Cooper’s wife, Nancy. According to the widowed Mrs. Cooper, Gutting made the statement that “this” was between himself and Cooper.
Gutting was deemed unfit to stand trial for the murder back in December 2018 by a state psychologist.
Criminologist and MSU faculty member John Appelquist explained, “This suggests he did not have the ability to understand what he was being charged with or communicate to either his lawyer or the judge.”
Gutting was then admitted to the Missouri Department of Mental Health where he underwent treatment for more than a year. Following his most recent evaluation, a letter from the DMH stated that a state psychologist believes he is mentally capable of standing trial.
If Gutting stands trial, he will face a first Degree Murder charge, two charges of Armed Criminal Action, one Second Degree Assault charge and one charge of First Degree Burgulary.
“In some cases, it’s as simple as prescribing the right medication,” Appelquist said. “I can’t say for sure that medication is what helped him, but something they did helped him be mentally competent enough for this upcoming trial.”
However, the defense team for Gutting has stated that they want another opinion on the matter.
At a small court appearance following the announcement, Gutting’s defense attorney Joseph Passanise said he wanted Gutting to undergo a second evaluation, but this time with a private psychologist.
Now the attorneys for both prosecution and defense will need to agree that he is either fit or unfit and needs to see another psychologist, or there will be a contested hearing, the outcome of which will be decided by Judge Thomas Mountjoy.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Gutting entered the Cooper residence through the back door and proceeded to chase Cooper into the living room where Gutting knocked him down and proceeded to stab him.
The 6-foot-5 and 225-pound man also threatened Mrs. Cooper stating that he didn’t want to kill her but would if he had to.
Speculation for motive has led some to believe that the murder was over a dispute for Cooper’s former job.
Following the killing, MSU put out a statement mourning the loss of Cooper. Cooper served in the MSU History Department from 1980 to 2014 and was department head from 1997 to 2003.
In the statement put out by the university, Dean of the College of Humanities and Public Affairs Victor Matthews stated: “During his nearly 35 years on faculty, Dr. Cooper was an active scholar, publishing several articles on the cuneiform tablets of ancient Iraq, and his teaching specialty area was in the history of the Ancient Near East.”