Zimmerman declared fit to stand trial


BY CHELSEA JENSEN | WEST HAWAII TODAY

A Washington state man accused in the May beating death of his girlfriend in a South Kohala hotel room is mentally fit to stand trial.

3rd Circuit Court Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra on Tuesday ruled Philip Howard Zimmerman, 46, mentally fit to stand trial on charges of second-degree murder, kidnapping and second-degree criminal property damage stemming from the May 23 death of Susan Brockert, 44. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the offenses.

Ibarra's ruling follows psychologist Alex Lichton, and psychiatrists Henry Yang and Gene Altman, each finding him mentally fit to proceed, according to 3rd Circuit Court records. The case against Zimmerman had been suspended since August for the mental health examinations.

Ibarra set Zimmerman's jury trial for 9 a.m. on Aug. 7. The Bellevue, Wash., resident remains held without bail at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

The murder, kidnapping and property damage charges against Zimmerman stem from the May 23 death of his girlfriend, Brockert, also of Bellevue, Wash. The murder charge does carry enhanced sentencing measures capable of landing the 46-year-old a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Zimmerman and Brockert were vacationing at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, at Mauna Lani Resort when Zimmerman allegedly beat Brockert, inflicting fatal injuries that included blunt force and sharp force trauma, according to police.

cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com