Charges Dismissed Against Man Charged in Kentucky Firefighter Slaying

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A Fayette County Circuit Court judge on Thursday dismissed murder charges against a man charged with shooting his wife and a firefighter.

Judge James Ishmael said during a Wednesday hearing that charges were being dropped against Patrick Hutchinson so Hutchinson could be involuntarily committed to a mental health hospital in Louisville.

Patients at Central State Hospital may not be charged with felonies. Ishmael said that ``this in no way, shape or form is a dismissal of the charges on merits.''

Should Hutchinson become competent, the charges will be reinstated, Ishmael said.

Ishmael ruled Nov. 10 that Hutchinson was not mentally competent to stand trial.

Hutchinson, 45, was indicted on two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of wanton endangerment.

He engaged police in a six-hour standoff on Feb. 13 during which he allegedly shot his wife, Fontaine, 60, and Lexington Fire Lt. Brenda Cowan, 40. Another firefighter, Jim Sandford, also was shot, but survived.

During Wednesday's hearing, portions of an interview of Hutchinson, conducted by a Lexington police officer on the night of the standoff, were played. Hutchinson spoke during that interview of the Ark of the Covenant, disguised evil souls, aliens and clones. He said he killed his wife because she kept ``nagging'' him.

``She kept fussing at me, fussing at me,'' he said. ``I couldn't take it any more ... she's been nagging for years, right after they replaced her with a clone. They killed my wife _ a good woman _ and replaced her with a clone.''

Hutchinson said ``I didn't kill any humans today. Those were only clones.''