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Minnesota judge rules 'Miracle on Ice' player Mark Pavelich competent to stand trial in assault case

Brooks Johnson, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mark Pavelich, the famed "Miracle on Ice" Olympic hockey player charged with assaulting his North Shore neighbor last fall, has been found competent to stand trial.

Cook County (Minn.) District Judge Michael Cuzzo found this month that, based on a recent examination, Pavelich "presently has sufficient ability to rationally consult with counsel, understand the proceedings and participate in his defense." That allows the criminal case to proceed, months after Pavelich was civilly committed.

Pavelich, 62, is facing two felony assault charges and two felony weapons charges after allegedly striking a neighbor with a long metal pole and sending him to the hospital with serious injuries after returning to Pavelich's Lutsen-area home following a day of fishing together in August.

Pavelich had accused his neighbor of "spiking his beer," and the victim suffered cracked ribs, a bruised kidney and was "in and out of shock" when he was found, charges state.

Pavelich was found incompetent to stand trial on the charges in October.

In December, Pavelich was committed to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter after being found "mentally ill and dangerous." The doctor who recommended his commitment said Pavelich may suffer from an "unspecified neurocognitive" affliction. His family has said they suspect CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which may have resulted from repeated blows to the head while playing hockey, including 355 games in the NHL.

 

"Mark is the most kind and gentle person you'd ever know," his sister, Jean Gevik, previously told the Star Tribune. "This is a totally different guy."

CTE -- which can only be discovered through an autopsy -- often manifests in erratic behavior and has been suspected in the deaths of a number of professional athletes.

After initially refusing treatment, in March Pavelich began to take medication and was following doctors' orders, according to court filings.

Earlier this week his defense attorney, Chris Stocke, filed a motion to dismiss the two felony weapons charges -- possessing a short-barreled shotgun and possessing a firearm with a missing serial number -- saying they were found in an illegal search.

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