GRAND MARAIS, Minn. — Olympic hockey star Mark Pavelich was determined to be incompetent to stand trial Monday, Oct. 28, on charges related to an August assault of his neighbor. Pavelich's pending trial was suspended by Judge Michael Cuzzo in District Court in Grand Marais.
"He lacks the ability to rationally consult with counsel, is incapable of understanding the proceedings, and is incapable of participating in the defense due to mental illness or deficiency," Cuzzo's order said.
The judge described Pavelich as a "significant risk to harm others," and ordered Pavelich remain in custody until placed in supervised psychiatric care. The judge initiated civil commitment proceedings at the hearing. Neither the prosecution nor the defense objected to the ruling.
Pavelich, 61, a member of the "Miracle on Ice" team at Lake Placid, N.Y., was arrested Aug. 20 at his home in Lutsen after he allegedly struck and beat his neighbor with a metal pole. The two men had been fishing together. After they'd returned home, Pavelich accused the man of "spiking his beer," said the original criminal complaint filed by the Cook County Sheriff's Office.
Pavelich met with Dr. Chris Bowerman twice in September to determine competency. Bowerman informed the court that Pavelich is likely suffering from "post traumatic stress disorder with delayed expression and secondary psychotic features, and unspecified neurocognitive disorder," said Cuzzo's order to suspend trial.
A forensic and clinical psychologist based in Duluth, Bowerman recommended civil commitment and also informed the court that Pavelich "requires psychiatric treatment with neuroleptic medications."
Following Olympic glory, Pavelich spent several years in the NHL, mostly with the New York Rangers. He grew up a prep star at Eveleth High School before becoming an All-American at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
In 2012, Pavelich's wife, Kara, died following a second-story fall at the couple's home in Lutsen.
Charges against Pavelich will be dismissed three years after Monday's hearing, unless the Cook County prosecutor files written notice of an intent to prosecute.
Pavelich had been charged with four felony counts — second- and third-degree assault, possession of a short-barreled shotgun and possession of a firearm with a missing or altered serial number. The second-degree felony came with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, while the other charges maxed out at five years and $10,000.
During their investigation, authorities found an illegal shotgun at Pavelich's home. The shotgun was shorter than the legal 26 inches and the serial number had also been filed off.