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Exam finds Fergus Falls woman charged in boy's death mentally fit for trial

Justis Rae Burland, 6, died in April 2018 in Fergus Falls, Minn., after, according to court documents, he was beaten and tortured for months. Special to The Forum 1 / 2
Bobbie Bishop 2 / 2

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — The results of an exam show that a 42-year-old woman charged in the death of a 6-year-old boy is mentally competent to continue with her criminal proceedings.

Bobbie Bishop, of Fergus Falls, faces a count of second-degree murder without intent, three counts related to manslaughter and two counts related to the malicious treatment of a child.

After an initial competency exam showed Bishop was unfit to stand trial, Otter Tail County District Judge Barbara Hanson approved the prosecution’s request for a second exam.

Hanson ordered that Bishop undergo further evaluation at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter at a hearing on March 26, and the results of that evaluation were shown to the court on Thursday, May 30, prosecutor Michelle Eldien said.

The defense now has about 10 days to file an objection if it wants to contest the exam results, Eldien said.

Whether the defense will do so is unclear. Attempts to reach Bishop’s attorney, Brian Geis, by phone and email were unsuccessful Thursday.

Eldien said the judge will review the exam findings and decide how to move forward with the case.

Bishop and her co-defendant, 45-year-old Walter Wynhoff, were charged after a boy in their care, 6-year-old Justis Burland, died in April 2018. Court records show he suffered from ongoing physical abuse.

Wynhoff, who faced the same charges as Bishop, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in March, and his other charges were dismissed. He was sentenced on May 6 to serve four years in prison.