The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 9.
Wendell Earl Popejoy, 63, appeared in Ottawa County Circuit Court on Monday for a hearing in front of Judge Karen Miedema. Neither County Prosecutor Ron Frantz nor defense attorney Jeffrey Kortes had any objection to the forensic examiner’s report that Popejoy understood the charges against him and was able to assist his attorney in his own defense.
Officials said they are still waiting for a report on criminal responsibility, or whether or not Popejoy was sane at the time of the murder. The request for a criminal responsibility ruling, “which refers to his state of mind at the time,” came from the defense team, Kortes said.
Frantz said it is common for both examinations to be made in a murder case.
Popejoy is charged with the murder of his next-door neighbor, 59-year-old Sheila Bonge, who lived at 14961 104th Ave. in Crockery Township.
According to court documents, Popejoy admitted killing Bonge when he was interviewed by Ottawa County Sheriff’s detectives. During the interview, Popejoy said he saw Bonge outside his residence on Dec. 26, 2017. She was blowing snow from the easement driveway in front of his home.
“Wendell stated that he had made the decision when he saw Sheila to kill her,” the document says. “He then grabbed a gun from his home; he went out to the easement where Sheila was blowing the snow. Wendell stated that he went up behind Sheila and shot her in the back of the head and disposed of her body behind his residence.”
Bonge was reported missing the next day. Her body was found Dec. 28 in the snow behind Popejoy’s house.
During the preliminary examination on Jan. 24, testimony revealed that there was an ongoing dispute between the neighbors regarding a driveway easement.
Also during the hearing, Ottawa County Detective Ann Koster testified that Popejoy admitted putting Bonge’s body on a sled and taking it down the hill behind his house. He removed Bonge’s clothing and burned it.
Popejoy then hid the gun in the garage, but later removed it and threw it in the Grand River off the 68th Avenue Bridge in Eastmanville, Koster said.
Popejoy has been lodged at the Ottawa County Jail without bond since his arrest in late December.