Lawyers for Man Accused in Columbia Falls Stabbing Request Case Dismissal

Judge Robert B. Allison did not rule on the motion at a July 19 hearing for Zain Alexander Ray Glass; defendant remains in custody at the Montana State Hospital

By Maggie Dresser
Zain Glass appears in Flathead County District Court in Kalispell before Judge Robert Allison via a video call on July 19, 2023. Glass is charged with a felony count of deliberate homicide after a fatal stabbing in Columbia Falls on Sept. 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Attorneys defending a 24-year-old Flathead County man accused of fatally stabbing his sister’s boyfriend in Columbia Falls last September have asked a Flathead County District Court judge for a case dismissal, arguing the defendant is mentally unfit to proceed.

Zain Alexander Ray Glass has not entered a plea to a felony count of deliberate homicide in the alleged Sept. 20 stabbing.

At a July 19 hearing, Judge Robert B. Allison heard arguments from Glass’s public defender, Dianne Rice, and Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner. Judge Allison did not rule on the motion in order to allow Ahner time to respond to the motion and accompanying brief.

Glass appeared at the hearing via Zoom from the Montana State Hospital.

Glass was deemed unfit to enter a plea shortly after his arrest last fall and was admitted to the Montana State Hospital on Nov. 10, 2022. After his admission, he was scheduled to receive a fitness evaluation and begin a treatment plan to stabilize his mental state, allowing him to continue with court proceedings.

Rice on May 25 filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that Glass was “unable to understand the proceedings against him or assist in his own defense and therefore cannot be tried, convicted or sentenced.”

Dianne Rice, attorney for Zain Glass, appears in Flathead County District Court in Kalispell for a hearing on July 19, 2023. Glass is charged with a felony count of deliberate homicide after a fatal stabbing in Columbia Falls on Sept. 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Rice also said in her motion that ongoing delays at the state hospital and the county attorney’s office, including missed fitness evaluation deadlines and a failure to request hearings, makes the case dismissible.

“If we aren’t having review hearings, the state is going to allow him to languish indefinitely, and that’s not how we treat the mentally ill in Montana,” Rice said at the July 19 hearing.

Ahner argued in his response that he received a report that Glass showed significant improvement and was “likely to achieve fitness in the foreseeable future.”

“Based on the evidence of the court and the fact that Mr. Glass has been attended to with great care from the state hospital and with diligence by this court, the state asks the court deny the defense motion,” Ahner said at the hearing.

As of July 19, Zain remained at the state hospital where he was continuing treatment. Judge Allison on March 3 ordered that involuntary treatment be administered after the defendant refused to comply with a voluntary treatment plan that included antipsychotic medication.

The doctor said earlier this year that the medication was “substantially likely to render (the defendant) fit to proceed” and stated the involuntary administration is “necessary and medically appropriate.”

Rice on July 20 filed a motion to schedule a hearing on the defendant’s fitness before Aug. 25.

According to charging documents, Glass was arrested on Sept. 21 after his sister reported that he stabbed her boyfriend, Lukas Davis, following a verbal argument in her bedroom. When Davis exited the room, Glass was standing in the hallway and stabbed him.

Glass’s sister then locked him out of the house and called law enforcement and a Columbia Falls Police Department officer arrived to find Glass standing in the yard with a knife in his hand. After he was ordered to drop the knife, he was handcuffed. He later told detectives during an interview that the stabbing “was an accident,” records state.

Authorities found Davis with a knife wound to his abdomen, records state. He was transported to Logan Health, where he was pronounced dead.

Glass has no scheduled court hearings as of July 20. He faces a maximum sentence of 100 years in the Montana State Prison.

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