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Detmer incompetent to stand trial for murder


A 49-year-old Kansas City man has been found incompetent to proceed to trial for murdering his father with a hammer.

James Detmer had been charged with murdering his father, Wilbert J. Detmer, on Jan. 10, 2001 at their home near Blair Road and Mo. Highway 45.

The Platte County Circuit Court ruled on April 12 that Detmer was mentally unable to undergo a trial and that there is no reasonable probability he will be able to go to trial in the foreseeable future.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, “We have fought hard to bring this man to trial since my first week in office more than four years ago. However, under Missouri law, we cannot force a man to trial if his mental state is so lacking that he does not understand the basics of a trial and cannot assist in his own defense.”

According to Zahnd, Wilbert Detmer was found dead in the garage of his house on January 10, 2001. James Detmer, who had recently been released from jail on an unrelated charge, quickly became a suspect. In the days that followed, investigators followed a trail of purchases made with a credit card stolen from the victim away from the Detmer home.

James Detmer remained at large for several months, during which time the case appeared on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” He was eventually captured in Texas in 2002.

Zahnd said, “This defendant has been locked up in the state’s mental hospital in Fulton or the Platte County Jail since he was arrested. We will continue to work to have him kept under lock and key until the day his mental state improves enough to take him to trial for murder, if that day ever comes.”

Under Missouri law, the Missouri Department of Mental Health and Attorney General’s office will now step into the case to ask that a guardianship be established for James Detmer.

The case against James Detmer was investigated by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department and was personally prosecuted by Zahnd and Assistant Prosecutor Joe Vanover.