Walter_James_Mason

Mason

A psychologist has determined Walter Mason, 86, is not fit to proceed in court on his murder charge.

Mason was arrested in October for the 1980 murder of Daniel Woolley in Clayton. His health has been a concern since he was first arrested.

On Nov. 18, Magistrate Judge James Barrett wrote a decision committing Mason to South State Hospital in Blackfoot.

"(T)he court hereby finds that the Defendant is not fit to proceed and there is not a substantial probability that the Defendant will become fit to proceed in the foreseeable future," the order terminating Mason's commitment stated.

Mason has been held at South State Hospital for nearly two months since the court determined he was unfit to support his own defense. According to the order, he was examined by Dr. Tashina Keith, the hospital's Chief of Psychology.

As part of the order, the Custer County Sheriff's Office will take custody of Mason in preparation for a status conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Feb. 3 in the Custer County Courthouse.

Mason fled Idaho after he reportedly shot Woolley at the Sports Club bar. He was found in Eastland County in Texas, where he had been living under an assumed name for 25 years. When he was extradited to Idaho, deputies in Texas warned the Custer County Sheriff's Office that he was frail.

In an October interview with the Post Register, Willie and Brenda Ezzell, who lived for more than two decades across the road from Mason in Rising Star, Texas, described Mason as "a pretty feeble old man” and "in real poor health.”