Suspect in 1988 Old Colorado City murder found mentally competent to stand trial

Left: Victim Vialpando. Middle: Suspect. Right: DNA rendering of suspect
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (The Gazette) - A man accused of raping and killing a woman in Old Colorado City in 1988 when he was 15 years old is mentally fit to stand trial, a judge ruled on Friday.

James Edward Papol, 46, who authorities say has been tied by DNA to the three-decade-old murder of Mary Lynn Vialpando, was ordered to undergo a mental competency evaluation after he went without his antipsychotic medication for more than a week at the El Paso County jail in late February.

Papol’s attorneys did not object Friday when 4th Judicial District Judge Robin Chittum deemed Papol mentally competent based on an assessment of him last month at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

“He’s back to who we knew him to be before,” said defense lawyer Richard Bednarski, who requested that Papol be evaluated in March. At the time, Bednarski said Papol’s mental state had declined because he hadn’t consistently been given the antipsychotic drug he takes to ease the symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

In the six months following Papol’s September arrest, he was without his prescribed medication for four periods, each of which lasted days, jail records have shown.

Click here to read the full article by 11 News partner The Gazette.