1978 NJ killings defendant ruled fit for trial

June 28, 2011 5:06:17 AM PDT
A judge has ruled a man charged with killing five teenagers in Newark, N.J., in 1978 is competent to stand trial.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Costello ruled Monday defendant Lee Evans is capable of understanding the case against him.

The judge denied a motion by the Essex County prosecutor's office that would've required Evans to undergo a psychological examination.

Assistant prosecutor Peter Guarino tells Newark's The Star-Ledger newspaper he filed the request to try to head off the possibility Evans would argue on appeal that he was incompetent.

Evans and a cousin are charged with luring the teens to an abandoned building, tying them up and setting the building on fire in a dispute over stolen drugs. The bodies were never recovered.

Evans and his cousin have pleaded not guilty.