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Cedar Rapids teen charged with killing parents found competent to stand trial
17-year-old Ethan Alexander Orton charged as adult with 2 counts of first-degree murder
CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge ruled Friday that a Cedar Rapids teenager charged last year with killing his parents with a knife and ax has been found competent to stand trial.
Ethan Alexander Orton, 17, charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder, was sent in December to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville for a psychiatric evaluation. His defense lawyers told 6th Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill they believed Orton has a mental impairment or disorder.
Thornhill didn’t give further details of the evaluation, which determines if a defendant understands the charges against him and is able to assist his lawyers with his own defense.
Orton, who appeared at the hearing in a green T-shirt and jeans, didn’t look at reporters and cameras in the courtroom. As sheriff’s deputies took him out afterward, he kept his face covered with a paper mask and his eyes shielded by his long red hair.
No family members of the Ortons were in the courtroom.
Thornhill briefly talked to the defense and prosecution if they wanted to stay with a previously set Feb. 8 trial. He gave the defense a week to think it over and decide if they need more time. The court proceedings against Orton were temporarily suspended until the evaluation was completed.
Orton’s lawyers, Doug Davis and Madison Wiese, in their previous motion said their beliefs on Orton’s mental health are based on in-person communications with him and information they have received. Assistant Linn County Attorney Mike Harris did not resist the motion for an evaluation.
Cedar Rapids police received a 911 call about 2:10 a.m. Oct. 14 regarding suspicious noises coming from the Orton house at 361 Carnaby Dr. NE, according to a criminal complaint.
Officers said they found the teen soaked in blood outside the home. Orton admitted to killing his parents, Casey Arthur Orton, 42, and Misty Scott-Slade, 41, who were found inside. He stabbed both parents. When he realized his mother was still alive, however, he used an ax, he told investigators.
Orton said he killed them “to take charge of his life,” according to the complaint.
Casey and Misty both worked for McGrath Auto, general manager Gavin McGrath told The Gazette in October. Casey had been a technician in the Chevyland department since 2018, and Misty started a few months before in the company’s business development center. McGrath said the couple moved from the Salt Lake area of Utah to Cedar Rapids about 4 1/2 years ago.
The teen remains in jail under a $2 million cash-only bail. First-degree murder is a life sentence without parole, but because he is a juvenile, if convicted, he would have the opportunity for parole.
Orton is the second young man charged last year in Cedar Rapids with killing his parents. Alexander Ken Jackson, now 21, was charged last June with killing his parents and sister.
Jackson, who graduated from Kennedy High School, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He is accused of killing his father, Jan Jackson, 61; his mother, Melissa Jackson, 68; and his sister, Sabrina Jackson, 19, in their northeast Cedar Rapids home. Jackson, then 20, told police that he’d been awakened by the sound of gunfire and was shot in the foot as he struggled over a rifle with a masked intruder, police said he told them.
Jackson’s trial is set for April 5.
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