Abel Wilkes, the suspect behind an 18-hour standoff with SWAT teams in March, has been deemed mentally competent to stand trial.
The incident occurred when Wilkes threatened his landlord with a rifle along Chumstick Highway near the town of Plain, prompting a SWAT team response. During the standoff, Wilkes barricaded himself inside his home and law enforcement shot at him and used tear gas and pepper spray against him.
Wilkes has been charged with second-degree assault and obstructing a law enforcement officer.
His defense attorney, Herman Bylenga, claimed that Wilkes was unable to participate in conversations meaningfully, prompting Chelan County Superior Court to approve a mental evaluation for Wilkes. A licensed psychologist evaluated Wilkes and determined that he was competent to stand trial, stating that there is no evidence that he lacks the mental capacity to understand this case. However, Judge Robert Jourdan disqualified Bylenga from representing Wilkes due to a breakdown in communication.
New counsel will be appointed for Wilkes by the next status hearing on May 3, 2023.