Son charged with killing Kent teacher remains in custody at state hospital

Michael Gese accused of murdering Gail Gese in February at her Tacoma home

Gail Gese

Michael Gese, a Tacoma man charged with killing Gail Gese, his mother and a Kent middle school teacher, remains at Western State Hospital in Lakewood for restoration services.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Karena Kirkendoll ruled Gese incompetent to stand trial for the first-degree murder charge and ordered competency restoration for him at a Feb. 23 hearing following evaluations of the 31-year-old. A Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson confirmed in an Aug. 30 email that Gese remains at Western State Hospital, although it was unknown which date he entered the hospital in a transfer from the Pierce County Jail.

Gese is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 1 stabbing of Gail Gese, 66, at her Tacoma home. Tacoma Police arrested Gese Feb. 1 in Tacoma. According to charging papers, Michael Gese suffers from undiagnosed schizophrenia and drug-induced mental health issues.

Gail Gese taught in the Kent School District at Cedar Heights Middle School in Covington. She taught math, foods, fads and finance at Cedar Heights since 2011. She previously taught at Kent Phoenix Academy.

Michael Gese had competency hearings continued on May 19 and Aug. 18, according to court records. He is scheduled for another competency hearing on Oct. 11.

Gese told detectives after his arrest that he was having an issue with his mother because she asked him to leave the residence which would cause him to be homeless again and he didn’t want to do that. He admitted to detectives that he stabbed his mother in the neck, according to court documents.

According to the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) website, when a defendant is found not competent, the state is ordered to provide services to bring them back to competency. Services typically include educational, therapeutic and recreational activities. The services also may include administration of psychotropic medications.

If a person exhibits substantial improvements in psychiatric and psychological functioning, they can be re-evaluated for competency to stand trial, according to DSHS, which provides competency services. If found competent to stand trial, they can be returned to jail and continue with their case.

If, after the first period or treatment, the court continues to find the person incompetent, the court can order another treatment period, according to DSHS. There are cases when a person is found not to be restorable in a “reasonable period” (typically longer than six months). If this occurs, charges may be temporarily dismissed, and the person may be admitted to a civil psychiatric unit at a hospital for continued treatment.

If this person is later found competent to stand trial, the prosecuting attorney can re-open the case and court proceedings can continue, according to DSHS. This process is known as dismissed without prejudice.

When a defendant is found competent, they are returned to the jail, according to DSHS. A hearing will be set to formalize the court’s opinion on whether the person is competent and ready to participate in adjudication.

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