Lawrence man charged with the murder of his partner has been declared unfit for trial
photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office
Updated at 11:39 a.m. Thursday
A Lawrence man charged with killing his significant other was deemed incompetent to stand trial on Thursday in Douglas County District Court.
The man, Chad Joseph Marek, 27, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Regan Gibbs, 25, on May 16 in the 2500 block of West Sixth Street. Police said at the time that Marek told a dispatcher that God told him to do it.
photo by: Contributed
Marek’s competency evaluation was ready for the court on June 16, but Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden objected to the conclusion in the report and requested that the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center evaluator appear before the court to explain her findings.
The evaluator, Sara Godinez from Bert Nash, testified Thursday that she found that Marek was able to understand court procedures and that his thought processes were “meticulous and well thought out,” though “guarded.” She said that he understood the charges against him and that he called them “very grave.”
“The most salient criteria when I do an evaluation is the individual’s ability to communicate,” Godinez said.
She said that Marek was easy to communicate with during the evaluation but was prone to disruptions in which he would carry on about his faith, and those disruptions would break his train of thought and prevent him from remembering things he was asked to remember immediately before he started speaking.
Marek wasn’t diagnosed with anything during the evaluation, but he has signs of a mental disorder connected to his religious outbursts, she said.
“Hyperreligiosity can be an indicator of several mental or physical illnesses,” Godinez said.
Between his religious outbursts and his inability to remember things in the short term, Marek would be unable to effectively collaborate with his attorney during a trial, Godinez said.
Seiden, arguing against a finding of unfitness, said that Marek was competent during the mental evaluation and followed his attorney’s advice to not say anything about what he has been charged with to Godinez. Marek was also able to collaborate with his attorney in past hearings when he was instructed not to speak to the court.
“The state takes exception that he is incompetent to proceed because he is unable to work with his attorney,” Seiden said.
Marek’s defense attorney, John Kerns, said that the credibility of Godinez was not in question and it was not the state who could determine whether Marek is competent.
“We either believe Ms. Godinez or we don’t,” Kerns said.
Marek appeared next to Kerns dressed in a gray jail shirt with orange pants and a disposable face mask. He sat silently through the first half of the hearing but began to cry as Kerns gave his argument, and his weeping intensified as the judge read her ruling.
Judge Stacey Donovan said that she would adopt the findings of Godinez’s evaluation and said that his “attentional disturbances” would prevent him from effectively engaging with his attorney.
As previously reported by the Journal-World, Marek has a history of domestic battery convictions in Leavenworth County between 2013 and 2019. In those cases he also faced questions about his competency to stand trial and spent a few months in Larned State Hospital in 2014 and was eventually deemed competent.
The majority of the charges against Marek were for unlawful contact with his immediate family members, including his grandfather, father, mother and two victims who were 16 at the time of the incidents. He was repeatedly given probation for his crimes.
Marek’s proclivity for sharing his religious views is familiar to many in the Lawrence community. Before he was charged in the murder case, Marek appeared frequently in downtown Lawrence evangelizing with a bullhorn and playing keyboard and guitar. He has posted videos online decrying COVID-19 vaccines as the “spirit of the Anti-Christ” and saying “Wake up Lawrence, they are coming for your children. The LGBTQ agenda is coming for your children.”
Regan Gibbs, originally from Washington state, was a former goalkeeper for the University of Kansas soccer team. Her mother, Kristin Gibbs, said during a news conference in Lawrence shortly after Regan’s death that Marek coerced her daughter into a relationship and manipulated her using religion.
photo by: Lily O’Shea Becker
The Lawrence Police Department has confirmed that Chad Marek and Regan were married, but during the news conference Regan’s mother said that the two were not officially married. Douglas County court records indicate that the two had filed for a marriage license in November and it was processed and returned in January. Both Regan and Marek posted on Facebook that they were married on Nov. 24, 2021.
Marek is currently being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $1 million bond. His next court date is Aug. 30 for a status update. In the meantime, the judge instructed Kerns to work on getting Marek a place at Osawatomie State Hospital for treatment.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify Godinez’s quote regarding hyperreligiosity.